What exactly is the difference between an album, an EP, and LP, and a mixtape?

by | Sep 6, 2019 | Music Tech

The terms “LP” and “EP” originally come from vinyl record formats. Whether you’re getting involved with the music industry or simply a music enthusiast wanting to become more knowledgeable about the way it defines music, these are two important definitions to understand.

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The article was inspired by this post made by Ghanaian prolific DJ/Vj Pakorich of Zylofon 102.1 FM


The term EP for example, stands for Extended Playlist or just Extended Play — a project (or body of work) too short to be an album but more than one song and therefore too long to be a single. These can also be sold — at a lesser price than an album — and have proven to be successful marketing and sales tools for some artists and brands. This, a pivotal assessment of the format, as more and more artists look to move away from major labels and recording institutions to what we call Independent stables. EPs are also usually under half an hour or so, but there are some that are longer

‎Alpha – EP by Sarkodie

‎Album · 2019 · 6 Songs. Available with an Apple Music subscription. Try it free.


The only terms that can be used interchangeably are Album and LP as they are one and the same. LP stands for Long Play which is, in essence, a full length album.The Wikipedia definition reads as “[An] Album, is a collection of audio recordings issued as a single item on CD, record, audio tape, or another medium. Albums of recorded music were developed in the early 20th century, first as books of individual records, then from 1948 as vinyl LP records…”

‎Pieces In Peace by Kafui Chordz

‎Album · 2018 · 11 Songs. Available with an Apple Music subscription. Try it free.


Albums are the most important format because artists are severely judged on how well they put these projects together. In Hip Hop, the album is sold as an experience, and everything pertaining this project is taken into account: from the lyrical content to the production, to the features, to the album covers and sleeves. The best albums tell a story about the artist’s headspace and what they want to share with the world.

[Check out my playlist on Spotify]

Through these albums one can examine how an artist has grown: by looking at their priorities, the influences in their lives (artistic or otherwise) and the manner in which they serve the project to you. LPs are also measured in terms of sales. The best albums occupy top spots in charts for weeks and get certified Gold or Platinum, with some even reaching double or triple Platinum over time as a result of their physical copy sales, digital downloads and streams.


‎Site 15 by R2Bees

‎Album · 2019 · 15 Songs. Available with an Apple Music subscription. Try it free.


A Mixtape on the other hand can be an Album or EP (in terms of length), but it is not sold (unless on hard copy — to cover the costs of putting the music on disc). It can never be sold. It is given away to promote the artist(s) and generate a fan base. It is also commonly used by unsigned artists looking for their shot at the big time. It is (almost always) a bad idea to release and sell the album of an unknown artist.

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The effort simply doesn’t justify the outcome. Up until recently, mixtapes couldn’t be considered for The Grammys. Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book is the first Grammy-award-winning mixtape. Much closer to home, Nasty C’s Price City mixtape proved to be a huge mainstream success. Leading to the rapper’s “overnight” fame and recognition, this body of work served as the launching pad for an award winning career, a record deal and an endorsement deal.


‎Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper

On this, his first masterpiece, Chance evolves-from Rapper to pop visionary. Influenced by gospel music, Coloring Book finds the Chicago native moved by the Holy Spirit and the current state of his hometown. “I speak to God in public,” he says on “Blessings,” its radiant closer.


Credit: Medium/Jonilar/Kwabenayi