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How many songs should you write for an LP?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by SnowCal, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. So, my band is in the prep stages for our first album. We have a setlist with 9 originals in it right now, and a couple more works in progress. A couple of those songs are definitely not album worthy so we've still got some writing to do. But I think a 9-10 track LP would be great for a premier effort.

    But I hear about how great bands often write 30-40 good songs in order to release 10 great tracks on an LP. The guys want to record and release our current material. It's good, but it ain't world-class. I want to suggest that we write more, get a couple sets ready for live gigging, and choose only the great songs for our LP. I feel like we could write, record, and release a great album by the end of this year. But everybody's used to local standards, where you write a few good songs and release them and get lauded in the paper. No band here has ever seriously tried to produce a great album.

    So I've gotta convince these guys to buck the habit and do the work to make something game-changing. And that involves convincing musicians to not record or save for interim EPs good songs.

    We're a hobbyist band in a lot of ways, but we're all in agreement that we want to be the most professional band in our city and blow the place up. That's been working in our favor so far. How do I make the case that we need to write a lot of good and great songs to record only 10 great ones?
  2. 80jazz


    Jun 28, 2008
    I think it would make more sense to focus on 10 songs and clean those up rather than writing a bunch of complete songs and then just choosing. This way it isn't time wasted and ultimately lost.
  3. IPYF


    Mar 31, 2011
    If the material is not up there (in your opinion) and your band want to do a record why not do an EP?

    It gets you in to make a record and usually encourages you to work hard on a select group of songs in the studio rather than trying madly to get the entirety of a full length down in the allotted time without blowing out. Also it allows you to critically assess which of your songs are 'up there' which can really help with conversations about direction and the like.

    Don't go into the studio with 10 songs you're not sold on. Your wallet will empty and all you'll get for your trouble is a frown and a sigh when you listen back.
  4. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
  5. BryanM


    Dec 15, 2007
    Seattle, WA
    I agree with IPYF, go in and do an EP of 3-5 very solid songs, the best of the 9 or 10. Use the EP to build press and build a following and just keep focusing on writing. We started putting together our first album in January (Had a false start back in July of last year) and are doing a 5 song EP in April followed by a 12 song album in September. There will be 3 or 4 tracks of spillover from the EP to the album but we're retaking some of the vocal parts, taking out some of the augmenting instrumentation and adding in new auxiliary instruments in its place to make sure nobody's paying for the same thing twice. Those 12 songs that we've chosen come out of a library of about 40 complete, plus another 30-50 in progress. I wouldn't even necessarily say that they're the best of the bunch, but the best fitting as a single unit.
  6. jmattbassplaya

    jmattbassplaya Looking for a gig around East Islip, NY!

    Jan 13, 2008
    +1 on doing an EP instead.
  7. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    OOD likes this.
  8. gr8bassplayer


    Feb 12, 2013
    Hahaha, yes!
  9. We're doing an EP now. In the studio next week for that.

    I feel like all of our songs are good, for an LP by a local band. I want to postpone recording until we have a tracklist that is good by anybody's standards. Song X is good and every other band in town would record and release it on an album. But I want to be better than that. We're striving to be a lot more serious than local bands.
  10. abemo


    Feb 27, 2012
    Arvada, co
    LP vs EP is more a question of running time vs number of songs. Pink floyd released LPs with just five songs, whereas afi could have fit 8-10 on an EP when they started out. Just pick the songs you want to record and go for it, don't get so hung up on EP/LP, whatever.
  11. It's about time/length of the CD rather than quantity of songs.
    10 short songs equals 5 long ones and so on....
    Although you can weigh that against factors like;
    10 snappy songs would be better than 5 long drawn out jams or..
    5 really tight long songs versus 10 mediocre snappy tunes
    and so on and so forth...
  12. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    Write more than you need. Actually 40 isn't a bad number, as that's pretty much a four hour gigs worth of material.

    Play the material live for at least six months before you even think about committing it to a recording. Songs evolve over time, don't record the concept for the songs, record the songs that grow from the concepts.

    Pick the ones that have the best crowd appeal, and then spend some money on a pro recording. (Mastering is an art in and of itself. Find someone who's good at it, don't try to do it yourself.)
  13. Bunk McNulty

    Bunk McNulty It is not easy to do simple things correctly. Supporting Member

    Dec 11, 2012
    Northampton, MA

    When you're rich and famous, then you can afford to write in the studio. Until then...write a lot, try 'em out in front of audiences.
  14. Raymeous


    Jul 2, 2010
    San Diego
    Cool things can happen in the studio as well.

    For example:
    An originals band I was in during my early 20's had one track that was kinda the sleeper of the group for our first EP. However once we were in the studio we were able to actually listen to the song without having to play it. We decided to add a simple simple 3rd part to the chorus' harmony and BLAM! Suddenly the songs chorus became a moment of a Major vibe while the rest of the song was still kind of brooding and minorish. It instantly changed the whole feel of the song and made it one of the best tracks on the EP.

    In todays DAW era with unlimited track counts per song, it is very easy to record too much instead of simply recording a great take. Make sure you know your parts and don't forget to "perform" your parts. If you play it while sitting down and kinda bored it WILL sound like it. There is no plug-in or magic bullet to fix an uninspired performance.

    As for number of songs... 2 minute "hits" or something with more depth? It doesn't really matter, but if this the first documentation of your bands music, I would opt for more tracks and less of the "epics". If you're going for a full length album then throw in that 10 minute "master piece". It is your album after all, so a little self indulgence is acceptable. Show us what you got! :bassist:
  15. MatticusMania

    MatticusMania LANA! HE REMEMBERS ME!

    Sep 10, 2008
    Pomona, SoCal
    For an LP, Id personally aim for a minimum of 50 minutes in length, maybe topping out at 70 or 75 minutes.
    For my band, that'd be around 9 or 10 songs.
    We released an EP last summer at 29 minutes long, it has 5 tracks.
  16. bearfoot

    bearfoot SUSPENDED

    Jan 27, 2005
    Chittenango, NY
    ^ a LOT of LP's though aren't much more than 30 minutes. It's a grey area that has to be worked out depending on the specific project.

    What I hear an awful lot of is songs with great grooves and instrumentation, and absolutely nothing that sticks in your head afterwards: weak melody and lyric. The melody and lyric actually ARE the song. Except maybe for a truly iconic riff, a la "Day Tripper", eveything else is window dressing. So my 2 cents is to dig in there.
    That's if you want songs that are remembered, its certainly a valid artistic choice to just write metaphor and vague lyrics. I love David Bowie, for instance. He has great artistic integrity, but there are reasons his often disconnected metaphors don't connect with an audience. Metaphors that connect are tangible, physical, not in the head. You can write a more memorable love song about making toast than you can love itself. Connect the intangible to the tangible FTW. In my opinion, and we all know what those are like...
  17. It partially depends on the length of the songs... are they around 4 minutes or is there some long "tool" type jams? I think of your planning to do the iTunes route you should do either do about 7 or 14. The reason being is people who don't know you will be less likely to pay 9.99 for a full length album if it only has 10songs but with 13 they look at as a deal like 3 songs for free when you buy the album. Even with CDs Ive found selling a cd with 7 songs for $5 and 13 songs for $10 goes over better then trying to sell 30 minutes worth of music for 10 bucks.
  18. I guess I misphrased my question a bit. We kind of know the LP length we're looking for. 30-40 minutes. That's give or take 10 tracks for us. Our 'epic' material is topping out at 4:30 and we've got songs that wrap up around the 2 minute mark.

    What I was really asking about was throwaway material. We've got a couple songs that we know aren't going on the LP and a couple more we know we need to write. The question is where should the bar be set for 'throwaway'. The guys pushing the LP are setting it at 'this is a good song'. I'd like to take more time, write until we have 20-30 songs and set the bar at 'top 10'. I feel like we could create a much, much better finished product that way. Just hard to convince guys of this approach when it's more work and means songs they like won't get released.
  19. allanhearn


    Apr 22, 2004
    I bet if you have 10 songs now, 5 if them are sub-par, need better arrangements or are lacking some way.
    If your taking your time and money to the studio, you better have
    8-10 killer songs. Write 30 or 40 songs and see how many of first 10 survive.

    do a ep of 3-5 if you don't have the material your completely stoked about.
  20. Phalex

    Phalex Semper Gumby Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2006
    G.R. MI
    I'm not so sure that the guys in the band are the right people to say that "This is a good song". I used to work with a songwriter that was very instant that every idea he came up with was pure gold, and if it didn't get good crowd response it was because the audience was "Too stupid" to get it.

    I really like the idea of having more tunes, but even the "Top 10" might be pushing it. If there are only 3 songs that are truly worthy, you do yourself a great disservice with the other 7.

    I don't mean to come across as an asshat, but my experience has led me to believe that brilliant musicians are often horrible judges of good music. (I use the word good, but it's really more about what is going to appeal to the audience.)

    Write songs / play gigs / write more songs / play more gigs / throw out the tunes that don't go over well / write more songs / play more gigs......... Record the songs that have consistently had the most topless women dancing on stage / ??? / Profit.

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