Should I Release a Mixtape, EP, or Album?

After writing, recording, mixing, and mastering a few tracks, you might think the most difficult part of becoming a famed rapper is over. Sadly, that would be far from the truth. Sometimes, the most challenging part of getting your name out there relies on how you release and present your music once it’s ready for the world to hear. One of the decisions you’ll be faced with is how you’re going to market it. Are you planning on releasing online only, or do you want to burn hard copy editions of your work to hand out at shows?

In order to answer that question, you must first decide whether your work will be a part of a mixtape, EP, album, or something else, such as a singles compilation. Tap and Ravel is here to help you make that decision by breaking down what each of the options mean for your career.

What is a mixtape?

A mixtape is typically a body of work designed to propel an artist’s career forward and introduce new sounds and ideas without the pressure of charting high or selling a ton of copies. In fact, a mixtape is usually released for free on services such as Soundcloud or Youtube rather than on paid streaming platforms. Mixtapes can feature original or recycled beats and a slew of guest spots from better-known rappers.

When should I go this route?

Rappers should choose to release their work on mixtapes when they may not have the clout it takes to sell records, yet they’re still interested in releasing work. On the other hand, popular rappers sometimes release mixtapes to experiment with new sounds to get feedback from fans without the pressure of a full album release.

What is an EP?

An EP contains a handful of songs, usually between three and six, and can be used as an introduction to an artist’s music or a release that happens in between albums to tide fans over. While EPs can be, and often are released for profit, they don’t hold the same weight as albums. For example, they are not counted in tracking for the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

When should I go this route?

EPs are a great choice for when you’re looking to offer a taste of your music style, either for profit or for free, to a large amount of people without releasing an entire body of work. The purpose of an EP is to include a range of song topics, styles, and sounds, ensuring it shows off your ability and leaves fans interested in hearing an album from you in the future. These bodies of work are most commonly what rappers send to a record label or executive for review.

What is an album?

An album is a cohesive body of work that is usually always released at a cost. Typically, a couple singles that embody the overall sound of the album are released within a month or two before the full record comes out, giving fans a preview so they know if they’re interested. Often, albums come with a tour and a lot of promo events.

When should I go this route?

Because albums are typically what potential fans look through when perusing through a new artist’s discography, you should only release an album when you’ve found your signature sound and when you have a big enough following, at least locally, to make some sales. You should also hold off on releasing an album until you have enough marketing money to put into properly promoting it.

What are my other options?

Interested in releasing music without having to make it a part of a project? Another option is to simply release singles until you’re ready to put together a mixtape or EP. This takes the pressure off of making all the songs flow together, giving you the chance to work with different styles and sounds.

Should I release online only?

In today’s age, I think the best way for up-and-coming rappers to get their music out is by releasing it online, whatever platform that may be. When it comes to singles, mixtapes, and EPs, I think Spotify and Apple Music will suffice. If you’re in a position to release a full-length album, then you can create hard copies of the work to sell at shows. On the other hand, if you want to burn a couple copies of your mixtape to hand out for free, definitely do that if you think it could help spread your name.

In conclusion, the decision of how to present your music basically comes down to what point you're currently at in your career. If you're just starting off, an EP or mixtape is a good choice, but if you're ready to make big career moves, an album is the direction you want to go. Whether you’re releasing your first project or trying to decide where to take your career next, I hope this knowledge of the various mediums used to release music has offered some insight into if you should release a mixtape, EP, or an album.

*This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that I will get a small commission if you purchase from my link with no extra cost to you :)*


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