By definition, an LP, or a Long Play record format offers a more extended playback. It has disk rotation at the speed of the 33 1/3 rpm. It also has a gramophone of 10-12 inches and a microgroove specification. As it is named, this type of record plays longer with the duration of several songs, and are the same with a full-length album at about 30-60 minutes. However, the ideal would be 40 minutes per side of the vinyl because the sound quality tends to degrade over time.
An LP will usually include 10-12 songs in a 30 cm diameter vinyl. Over time, when vinyl records have been phased out at the advent of CDs, and eventually everything came in a digital format, the label of LP can sometimes be etched upfront. Still, we wonder, what does that mean?
Well, as compared to other formats, it can be distinguished by its vinyl medium, with the number of its tracks can only go as much as the bandwidth of the vinyl. That’s it. Although the term is pretty much thrown all around the music streaming industry. It doesn’t exactly make it “longer” than any format since most platforms cap it off at a maximum of 35 songs.
LP Vs EP
Art and LP
One thing that further bound the LP format to the masses is how it allowed people to connect strongly and longer to records that are now considered classic and iconic. These records showcase numerous sets of songs that usually had an encompassing theme to identify the musicians and their musical intentions. This also became a venue to showcase art that was indicative of the times.
As a concrete example, the album art for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is indicative of the prevalent use of LSD during this time. It was conceived during a hallucinogenic episode of McCartney for the first time with the long-time acid-consuming bandmates of his, Lennon and Harrison. This was also a time of musical competitiveness between artists, which led to the iconic classics.
Another great but somehow enigmatic album art is that of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. It depicted the iconic imagery of light passing through a prism, turning to several bright spectral colors lifted by a plain black background. This rather simple art style was explained by none of the band’s members, thus leaving this to their listeners to speculate what this truly means.
Advantages of the LP Format
The differences between music formats are essential, and that’s because LPs should not be released as or without a promotional material. That is why EPs or extended plays are released first. EPs are the opposite of LPs since they are 3-4 short singles released as part of informing the market of an LP in the process of production.
The LP format is not a recommended format for all. Still, it does well for classical music or broadway show recordings, since these records take a longer duration and a more continuous playing time. However, it can be assumed that this is a commonly used format, but is more familiar under the label “album,” which has stuck with the most of us. This is a format mostly used by established artists of various genres, and a lot of iconic musical productions are produced as LP. This also allows the listeners to connect better with the artistry of their preferred musicians.
Disadvantage of the LP Format
Since these records started with vinyl, one thing that comes in the way is that vinyl records are prone to damages from dust and heat. They are guaranteed to wear down due to scratches and scuffs over time. Today what deter artists about LP is the extensive resources it requires for production. This primarily affects young, new, indie, and emerging musicians of this generation.
The production of an LP vinyl record is costly then, and the production, publishing, and promotion of long records now are still expensive. This is why most musicians prefer making their starts with a single or an EP. A few factors can affect the success of an LP, and before it reaches a good selling point of potential, a lot of work has to be done to promote the musicians.
Developments on the LP
In 2018, the LP format celebrated its 70th year of founding, and a historical development was reminisced, with the initial setup printed on shellac phonographs. Way before the LP format was made, it didn’t reach 5 minutes before a listener had to turn the disk. With the LP, the listening time extended to 40 minutes per side, with Columbia as the frontier company to introduce the format to the world.
At the dawn of the modern age, pieces of vinyl were gone, but now they’re back, not as much as the music paraphernalia they were back in the day. However, the manufacturer has continued, and they have usually considered a vintage collector’s item. This has been the aim of many indie musicians to have their vinyl record. Still, this trendy aesthetic appeal is not economically practical, and will only work if you’re Nirvana or Radiohead.
Back in the day, disk jockeys would use vinyl records for cueing tracks. Still, the modern-day music -playing and streaming made apps like Spotify and software like the Virtual DJ more available to the public. This further pushes vinyl records to the side as an artifact of the music industry history. However, they still make for great promotional material, and they are back in Vogue as marketing material for the hip and pop. The format also paved the way for album art, which became a thing in and of itself. It paired the music with a visual piece, sometimes with the context of its own, and would further improve the overall feel of the record.
Fame and Followers
You have to be sure that you’ve garnered enough recognition and followers before you release an album. Your listeners’ patronage will be a significant determinant of how much you can get from the venture. If you’re risking with a low follower count, it just may end up being a failed venture.
Cost and Resources
Since the production, promotion, and release of an LP will cost you so much time, energy, and money, you have to make sure it will be worth it. If you’re in the early beginnings of your music career, you will experience the struggle of putting out a single, so imagine putting out ten more to garner as much attention. This leads us to our last determinant.
The quality of the content you’re putting out will not be an outright factor, as there are albums that aren’t as good but had still raked in enough profit to keep them coming. However, one thing to consider is the attention span of your listeners. Music may not always be accompanied by visuals to keep people hooked and interested. Still, it should have a pull that can keep people listening for more. This will be too much of a risk for emerging artists whose art is not fully showcased to the public yet.
If all of these factors work well for you, then you can work your way towards making an LP, but if you’re iffy on one or two factors, it will be better you start with an EP just to be safe.
Should I release an LP?
A few things to consider before releasing an LP is your follower count, your resources, and the quality of your records for release.