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Abbrevation for Extended Play

The term EP or E.P. means Extended Play, and is applied to recordings released which are too long to qualify as singles but too short to qualify as albums. Typically an album has 8 or more tracks, a single only one or two, and an EP five to eight.

EPs were released in various sizes in different eras. The earliest EPs were 33 RPM recordings on 10" disks, and appeared at the close of the 78 RPM era. In the 1970s and 1980s there was less standardization, and EPs were made on 7", 10", or 12" disks running either 33 RPM or 45 RPM. Some novelty EPs used odd shapes and colours.

The first recordings released by many punk bands were released in EP format, mainly because the high-energy nature of the genre made it difficult to create sufficient material to fill an LP. For bands that went on to achieve commercial success, it was customary for the original EP tracks to be released later on full-length albums.

The term is sometimes applied to CDs with short playing times, but since a CD can carry any amount of material up to around 80 minutes the distinction between a CD EP and a short CD LP is arbitrary and based on artistic and marketing factors.

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