You’ve composed a number of tunes, played them on different stages and been widely applauded. You therefore think to yourself that it’s high time you hit the studio to record the songs that have earned you so much praise. But before you get there a seemingly trivial consideration begins to weigh heavily on your mind. How many songs should my album/EP have? 5? 10? 15? Two? Of course there is no hard and fast rule as to how many songs your project should have. I’ve listened to albums 22 songs long and was recently given one that had only five songs. Seeing as the grey area on this subject is quite large, here are a few considerations for you to chew on before you resort to eeny meeny minie moe.
Money, money, money, moooney
If studio time was free I’m guessing every Tom, Dick and Harry would be a recording artist. Knowing you have to pay to occupy someone’s studio and use their equipment, and possibly their instrumentalists; and given your incredibly finite resources, number of songs becomes a serious jigsaw puzzle. You can decide to make as many songs as possible with the time you’re able to afford. But something will surely have to give in the quality of these songs. Ever heard music critics use the term ‘filler material’? They were referring to cuts that have nothing remarkable about them and which appear to have been fitted into the album to meet a certain threshold. Seeing as you’re just making your name in the industry, you don’t want this term on your resume. You would rather, like most upcoming artists do, have an EP of three or four songs, each of which has the potential to be a classic in your chosen genre.
What would your idol do?
To help you make up your mind as to that all important figure, you can look up the CD covers of your musical idol and note how many songs they did and how long each of them was. You can use their formula as a guideline as to whether you need to lengthen or take out a pair of scissors and snip away at your songs. You might need to do away with some songs altogether and this is why it’s always a good idea to write more songs than you intend to record.
Think like a fan
Take of your artist cap off and think like a fan. Do you have the patience to listen to song after song of the same artist for over an hour? If you don’t than perhaps you need to trim that tracklist. Do you feel a bit short-changed when you buy a five-song EP for $9? You might then be tempted to add a couple of songs to bring them to a nice round 10 or 12. But will these be quality songs or mere filler to give your fans the notion of bang for their buck?
Miami Based, Internationally Known