“It comes down to economics and technology,” says JP de Stefani, record producer at B Sharp Studios in Boksburg. “I see a lot of bands coming in nowadays to record singles and EPs rather than full-length albums,” he says.

De Stefani says that there is a big market for single tracks on the internet and people will seldomly buy an album just to get one track that they want to listen to. Additionally, recording a full-length album is a huge task and can be costly.

“It is expensive to track a full album, so new bands are coming in to record singles or EPs that they then advertise themselves on the internet,” says De Stefani.

“I personally still like a real album that I can hold and collect, but the younger generation seem[s] more comfortable with paying ten bucks for a track online. The cost of producing a physical CD adds to the problem,” he says.

Ludwig Bouwer of One Big Room Studios in Pretoria says that the EP should be used as a promotional tool.

“Many young musicians would like to record a full album but they have budget problems, so they resort to recording singles and demos. Bands should use singles to get their toe in the door of the music world and to market themselves quickly,” he says.

Bouwer maintains that the full-length album is what bands should still be aiming for though. “Musicians must remember that music is an art. My problem with the machine age is that people may have forgotten that music is about playing to people.”

Local hip-hop artist, 28-year-old Mashudu Luka Makhado, has used the internet to push his singles and increase his fan base overseas. He has close to 100 links to his music on the internet and all of his songs are on iTunes and Amazon.

“People in the States have asked me for my CDs and I was in Australia in July to promote my songs because of this,” says Makhado. He also says that, “Everyone is using Blackberry these days, so to download tracks is free and easy. I find that a lot of people use data files to upload their music.”

Recording and releasing singles can help bands create hype and increase their fan base in the early stages of their development. It’s a quick and easy way to establish their sound and musicians are able to spend time on creating a single refined product.

A study conducted by the British Phonographic Industry showed that between 2008 and 2012 a drop of 11.2% was seen in album sales and that an increase of 6% was seen for singles in the UK.

“The single is used to sell the album,” says William Bishop from local punk rock band Fuzigish. “But I think people are more likely to fall in love with a song nowadays rather than with an album. In years past you had to go and buy the whole album to get the one song that you wanted but now you can just go and download a single so easily. Artists will always want to put out albums and as an art form the album will always be around. Whether they are as relevant in 20 years’ time remains to be seen,” he says.

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