In the music industry, you may hear the words “album” and “record” used interchangeably.
However, that doesn’t mean that they’re the same thing or that they mean the same thing all the time.
Here are the major differences between album and record.
Album Vs. Record (What’s The Difference?)
One of the differences between albums and records is their histories.
One can argue that records have existed longer than albums.
Records refer to a single track or song.
An album refers to a collection of songs on a single disc or digital release.
Songs existed for a long time before recording studios started to group them together to create albums.
It wasn’t odd for an artist to release a single song and have that record be a hit.
Fans would find themselves buying recordings of every single song that the artist produced.
Since a record has been around longer than an album, it has a longer history.
That’s a unique difference between the two.
2. A Record Might Be An Album But An Album Isn’t Always A Record
Most people tend to think of records as vinyl discs.
They’re the large or small, flat discs played on record players.
One of the differences between a record and an album is that a record might be an album but an album might not be a record.
For example, if a music artist releases several songs on one record, then one can consider that to be both an album and a record.
It’s an album because it’s a collection of songs, but it’s also a record because it’s a vinyl disc.
However, if another musical artist releases several songs but does so on a CD or just digitally, then it is an album but not a record.
That’s because it isn’t released on a vinyl disc.
They’re different because one can be two things while the other isn’t always true.
3. Record Means One Song And Album Means Several
Perhaps the main difference between a record and an album is what each refers to.
A record refers to a single song or track.
That song may simply be a single track or it may refer to a single song on a larger album.
An album refers to a series of songs collected together.
Musical artists may release a song to promote their new album, for example.
Although musicians used to release single songs solely, it’s much more popular to release a list of songs in an album.
4. Noun And Verb
A final difference between record and album is the fact that album is only a noun while record is a noun and a verb.
An album is always going to be an object.
A record, however, can be either an object or an action.
As a noun, it can refer to a vinyl disc or even a written account of an investigation.
As a verb, it can mean to copy something like recording a song or recording a video.
Albums and records are different because one is only a noun while the other can be both a noun and a verb.
What’s The Difference Between Album Of The Year And Record Of The Year?
When watching the Grammy Awards or any other kind of music award show, you’ll see two different awards called Album of the Year and Record of the Year.
They may seem like the same thing at first.
However, there’s a slight difference between them.
Album of the Year refers to an entire album.
It’s awarded to the musical artist whose entire album of songs was something the judges found award-winning.
This award goes to almost everyone involved in the creation of the album.
Certain factors go into the judge’s decision for which artist had the best album.
Some of those include things like best songs, best quality of recordings, best arrangement of songs, and even the cover art.
They likely also factor in the fan response to the album and its performance on different music boards.
Record of the Year refers to a particular song on an album.
Sometimes different music award shows will call it Song of the Year instead of Record of the Year.
The judges determine the quality, content, and execution of the song when deciding who the winner is.
They might also look at how well the song was received by audiences.
This award is a bit more specific when it comes to its recipients.
The musical artist, sound editor, and a few others usually get the award.
Album of the Year is an award given to an entire album while Record of the Year is an award given to a specific song on an album.
Why Are Records Called Albums?
Because records and albums can seem like the same thing—and sometimes are the same thing—you may wonder why records are sometimes called albums in the first place.
That’s because, historically, the word album has always referred to a collection of things.
It was primarily used to describe a collection of books.
For example, someone might have an album of botany books written by the same author.
When musical artists started releasing collections of songs in a tangible format like vinyl discs, they became known as albums.
They were a collection of songs.
Before then, people just called songs records because artists tended to release one song at a time.
It was only when there was a shift towards releasing collections of songs that albums and records became almost synonymous.
That said, a lot of people still call an album a record and vice versa.
What Is The Difference Between A Record And A Song?
Both record and song often refer to the same thing, but there can be differences.
A record is another word for a song.
However, a record can also refer to a vinyl disc.
If it does refer to a vinyl disc, then a song is what’s on the vinyl disc.
Some people may also confuse Record of the Year with Song of the Year.
While they are sometimes used interchangeably, there are some music awards shows, like the Grammys, that have both categories.
In this instance, Record of the Year recognizes the producers, sound engineers, and music artists for a particular song.
Song of the Year recognizes the content and composition of a song as well as the songwriter responsible for it.
As such, record and song often mean the same thing, but depending on the context, this isn’t always the case.
What Is An EP Vs. An Album?
Another confusing set of words that are sometimes used frequently together is an EP and an album.
EP means “extended play.”
It’s a collection of songs but not a very large collection.
For example, an EP might have three to six songs.
There aren’t enough songs to make it qualify as an official album.
Some musical artists will release an EP for charity or as bonus tracks for die-hard fans.
The average runtime of an EP is 30 minutes.
An album, on the other hand, can have anywhere from eight to 20 songs.
If the album is a soundtrack or film score, then it might have even more.
“Greatest Hits” albums also tend to have a large number of songs on them.
An album’s runtime can be anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the number of songs on it.
Some artists are turning to EPs as a way to quickly release new songs to fans.
Thanks to music streaming, fans have less patience than ever.
While established bands can still afford to take a few years between each album to work on new stuff, newer bands aren’t afforded that luxury.
Fans want new songs faster than they ever have before.
EPs are a great way for bands to satisfy their fans while still being able to focus on other projects.
Since they only need to release a few songs instead of a bunch for an album, they’re able to get them out to fans faster.
Depending on how music trends shift, EPs may be more common than they used to be.
What Caused The Rift Between EPs And LPs?
EPs and LPs exist thanks to a format war that occurred between record labels.
Each wanted to produce a new type of record that could hold more songs.
The belief was that if they were able to carry more songs, then fans would want to buy slightly more expensive albums to hear all the songs of their favorite band.
The two main sides of the format war were Columbia Records and RCA Victor.
Columbia Records ended up making 33 1/3 RPM with a 12-inch record in 1948.
The new vinyl disc was able to play 23 minutes of music on each side of the record.
They called it the Long Playing record.
RCA Victor came out with the Extended Play record.
It was a 45 RPM record that was 10-inches in diameter.
Since the record was smaller, it could only hold about 7.5 minutes of music on each side.
The 12-inch record won out and LP became the norm.
Despite its failure, the Extended Play’s shortened version, “EP,” stuck in the music business.
It became associated with artists who only published a few songs on a record rather than a full album’s length.
What Are The Benefits Of Releasing An Ep?
If you’re a diehard music fan or you’re thinking of getting into the music business, then you may wonder if you should release EPs or just focus on a debut album.
There are a few benefits of choosing to come out with an EP over an album first.
Here are some benefits of releasing an EP.
1. Less Expensive
One of the perks of releasing EPs instead of full-length albums is that it’s less expensive.
When you make an album, you’re going to be spending countless hours in a recording booth.
You may have to do several takes of the same song until the producer finds the perfect one.
The longer that you take in the recording studio, the more expensive it becomes.
You have to pay all the people in the studio doing the recording session.
Albums also have more songs.
Each one needs editing and quality control.
That costs money, too.
EPs are cheaper since you’re only recording a handful of songs.
It means less time in the studio and less time editing.
This is beneficial for musical artists who are just starting out.
They may not like the idea of taking on debt just to record a few songs.
Releasing an EP allows them to save up for the few songs that they want to record and make their debut without debt to their name.
Thanks to the lower cost of admission, EPs are cheaper to make, which can help struggling bands or those just starting out.
2. Faster Turnaround Time
Another benefit of EPs is that you get a faster turnaround time.
This is important for struggling artists and new bands.
The sooner you can start earning money with your music, the faster you can build your brand and invest in yourself.
For example, a band that’s just starting likely still has the day-to-day jobs that they do to keep the lights on at home.
Since they’re working at different jobs, they don’t always have the time or energy to focus on their music.
Making an album takes a longer time, so it could be years before the band is finally ready to release the album.
An EP, on the other hand, is relatively quick.
The band only needs to record a few songs, then mix and edit them.
In a matter of months, if not weeks, the EP is ready for release.
With a bit of luck, the band can start earning some money from their music.
This allows them to invest more in themselves, become better, shorten their work hours, and focus more and more on their music.
As they release more EPs and gain a bigger following and more money, then they can leave their jobs entirely and fully enter a career in music.
At that point, they can start thinking about making an album.
EPs have faster turnaround times, which can create more opportunities for musicians at a faster rate.
3. Easier To Manage
When it comes to making an album, a lot of bands encounter a problem where they’re not able to manage the creation or editing process.
There are too many songs and things happening that can make it difficult to get your voice heard.
There’s also a general rush to get through things because of the number of songs that an album has.
That isn’t the case with an EP.
Because there are only a handful of songs, a lot of focus can go into those few songs.
Artists have an easier time being part of every step of the process to ensure each song comes out the way they want it.
They’re also able to spread their resources more generously since they only have a few songs.
This ensures that every song receives the care and attention that it needs to become something great.
EPs allow bands to take their time because they know that they’re still going to finish an EP faster than an album.
With better management, the song has a higher chance of becoming a hit.
4. Great Debut Material
The music industry is incredibly competitive.
With different sources for people to receive recognition, it can be hard for new bands to find some traction or have an audience take them seriously.
An EP can change that.
Launching an EP shows the music world that your band is mature enough and ready to make a career out of music.
You’re ready to share your message and artistic vision with the world.
An EP is a better method for debuting your music to the world because it’s shorter.
An individual is more likely to pay for or listen to an EP than an album from a new band because the cost of entry is lower.
EPs are usually cheaper.
They’re also shorter on time.
That means that the individual doesn’t risk a lot to listen to it.
It’s easier to bring attention to your music by releasing it in short bursts.
Since the barrier of entry is low, you’re likely going to get a decent following before you release a full-length album.
EPs are great because they can help you gain fans before you make your official album debut.
5. Style Change
Some musicians will also use EPs as a way to test audiences when they’re thinking of doing a style change with their music.
For example, if a band is thinking of leaning towards a different genre of music than their usual, then they might want to test it out first.
They want to see how they sound, whether they can do it or not, and how their fans are going to respond to it.
Releasing a full album without warning of the style change might drive their fans away.
It’s better to ease them into it.
An EP can serve that function.
A band can release a few songs in the new style and see how their fans respond to it.
If the reaction is positive, then the band knows that they’re onto something.
They can start working on their next album without worrying that it might flop.
If the reaction is negative, then they know that their fans don’t particularly care for the style change.
They might decide to stick with their usual style and avoid a potential financial loss on a new album that might not have performed well.
EPs are a great way to test new things on fans.
Records and albums have a lot of similarities, but a few differences do define them.
Albums and EPs are another big difference in the music world although both are collections of songs.
New artists and established artists who want to try new things may find releasing EPs to be beneficial.