A 21st Century Music Key

In yesterday’s Drake-filled post, I promised to explain why I felt the need to qualify labeling his new two-song Scary Hours as an “EP.”

Pretty simple: two songs do not an EP make.

While chronicling Write All Nite’s 2017 New Year’s resolution, I’ve often pushed up against a few increasingly-outdated terms aimed at distinguishing types of releases. As such, what better time than early in this new year to come up with Write All Nite’s very own stylistic guide to such words. Think of it as a key for how to talk/write about 21st century music in response to industry changes, which everyone else should OBVS adopt.

Let’s drop the needle:

Single: This one doesn’t change at all; it designates a single song released by an artist, sometimes from an upcoming album, but just as commonly an end in itself.

Record: Ok, this is a new one. Records should still signify vinyls, but instead of being synonymous with a full album, I recommend it’s changed to refer to two-song releases, ala Scary Hours. It makes sense because old-school record singles used to come with two songs thanks to the b-side on the back.

EP: The middle ground between a record and an album. Though exceptions can of course be made, for the most part, it’s comprised of a couple of songs — no less than three — and runs around 20 minutes.

Mixtape: I’ve previously written about the eroding line between mixtapes and albums since all music is basically given away for free now (which used to be the definition of a mixtape). Since any collection of original songs should all be created equal regardless of their means of distribution, everyone should follow Lil Wayne’s lead and reserve the label “mixtapes” for any work that HEAVILY relies on pre-existing music, such as his Dedication series.

Album: A multi-song collection of entirely original material that should be no shorter than 30ish minutes.

Double-Album: This is a tricky one because so few people nowadays purchase hard CDs — or vinyls of new music, for that matter — but any album over 20 songs usually needs some sort of imposed structure, and thus should be considered a double-album. As such, a musician should pay extra attention to the particulars of their track listing’s makeup when dealing with such opuses, as Chris Brown didn’t do on last year’s Heartbreak on a Full Moon.

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