Vinyl 45 rpm with 11 minutes and 4 tracks. "single" or "E.P."?


Got a few releases from the Belgian Congo in the 1950s.
Vinyl 45 rpm with ~11 minutes and 4 tracks.

Question 1. “single” or “E.P.”?
( Release Group / Type seems very clear that it is a single.)

Question 2. If no release name or image of cover is available then how to name release? Use name of first track on A side? Use names of all tracks with colon separating? Other?


If it’s a single, I would only use the name of the first track as a title. Of course, singles are often two tracks with an A and a B side, and then it is usual to use both titles. But using three or more track titles as a release title would become a bit much.

Are you going to upload scans or photos as well? I would love to see that. We could do with more obscure and old vinyl on MusicBrainz. And we certainly need more non-western music.


“If in doubt, leave it out!” - if you’re not sure what RG type to use, just don’t use one.


I would definitely treat this as a single.

If you have no name/cover I would use names of all tracks with a slash separating.

“Song One / Song Two”

Unless you have a cover which very prominently displays the A side as if it is the name of the single – this would be very unusual for the 50s. (not very common until the late 60s or thereabouts)


hear hear!
Really appreciating your additions so far mmirG :slight_smile:


[quote=“mfmeulenbelt, post:2, topic:60839”]
I would love to see that. We could do with more obscure and old vinyl on MusicBrainz. And we certainly need more non-western music.
[/quote] Obscure, old vinyl, non-western music and metadata seems to be what is most at risk of being permanently lost - old African music has the attention of some collectors fortunately. Pre-1950s South American and Asian music seems at great risk - though the veil created by unfamilar languages may be obscuring my view.

This is why I’d like to popularise MB with the retirees of Asia, South America, and Africa - this is the music of their youth and they may still have access to it.

(If I can find images I add them - though sometimes my illiteracy overwhelms my Google-fu.)


It would be helpful if there was a guideline on how to treat the naming of releases that are >2, or >3, or >4 track singles, when there is no clear evidence.

How would I search to find a partial list of pre-1950 singles?


There’s no such thing up until the advent of the CD.

2-4 tracks made it an EP, that was the major distinction between an EP and a single.


Thanks Hawke.

Checking for community consensus;
for vinyl releases; more than 2 tracks total is E.P. (45 rpm) or L.P. (33 rpm) (not “single”) ?
(78rpm releases count as albums?)

(This fits in with the “feel” of some of these old 45rpm vinyl releases.

has a art cover on fron with a release name and tracklist on back. Seems very much like an mini-album.

This way of categorising could be artificially imposed onto older >2 track 45rpm vinyl. (These lack release name, graphics, even tracklists AIUI.)
Is this a good way forward?


Regarding naming of such releases;
found an entry for a 18cm/7" 45rpm vinyl with 4 tracks on it at
They are just using the first track title as the release name.
Here is current MB entry for this release;

EDIT: Have already found a flaw with this naming style - different releases with changed track orders.
Suppose first release entered could name release group?


That’s a nice idea. I fully support it.

Your worldcat link gave me the idea, that one could also take a look at the real thing in a nearby library. Alas, for the release in question, for me the nearest location is Zurich:
Not somewhere I get to every day (or even year).

But going to a musical library (University or similar) and cataloguing/scanning stuff from there seems worthwhile. Maybe even for the folks you mention (if they don’t own copies of the music, anyway).


From what I am seeing when looking at the language used around old vinyl releases;
Current MB definitions of “single” and “E.P.” do not match up with that usage.

Any 45 rpm vinyl over longer than ~ 4:15 min:sec per side with more than 3 tracks total is counted as an E.P.
I don’t like referring to WP - however with my rubber gloves on:

"The first EPs were seven-inch vinyl records with more tracks than a normal single (typically four to six of them). Although they shared size and speed with singles, they were a recognizably different format than the seven-inch single."

Here is half of a series of E.P.s from a DRC label in the 1940-50s.
There are many many more labels with what are called E.Ps.

In the world of old vinyl, “E.P.” has an existing meaning.

Does this matter?
Non-common usage of language can result in misunderstandings.
Adding a counter-intuitive step for new editors may be worth it.
I don’t know.


Most 78rpm releases will be singles, unless they’re multi-disc releases (which will almost always have been sold in some sort of book; this is the origin of the term “album”: compare to “photo album”)

As far as I know, 78rpm records with more than one track will be exceedingly rare, as they can only hold about 5 minutes per side for a 12-in. record and only 3 minutes for the more common 10-in.


Musicbrainz needs to take into account the post-vinyl era of EPs. As such, MB’s definition is very loose. The historical timeline is roughly:

1900s, the beginning of the gramophone record:

  • normal disc, 78rpm, 10/12 inches:3-5 minutes per side, one song per side. These are basically singles though I don’t think they were called that until later when there was a need to distinguish. Not given a title…
  • “album”, a book of several discs. Common for classical music since they’d need to stretch across several discs for time.

early 1950s, the introduction of the 45rpm record, the EP, and the LP.

  • “single” (generally a 7-inch 45, one song per side). Still not given a title.
  • “EP” (2-3 songs per side, also generally a 7-inch 45.) – basically a mini-album, but not always given a title.
  • “album”, the traditional album was still sold at this time, both in the form of multiple 78rpm discs and in the form of multiple 7-inch 45rpm discs.
  • “LP”, the common 12-in. / 33rpm record as we know it allowed the contents of what had previously been in book form to appear on one disc.

1960s, the “A” side
By this time the multi-disc “album” had been pretty much entirely replaced by the LP and 78rpm was basically dead.

  • “single” (pretty much only 7-inch 45rpm, one song per side). Now these were given titles, that of the more prominent “A-side” song, with the B-side being a more obscure or less-promoted “secondary” song.
  • “EP”, as above but now they were more often given titles. Still mostly 2 songs per side for a total of 4 songs. More solidly a “mini-album”. Sometimes sold as multi-disc releases as a “double EP”. Lots of confusion as to whether the EP is the physical format or the logical release sold on that format.
  • “LP / album”, same as above.

1980s, the CD single

  • “single” extends beyond 2 tracks – still has a much more prominent “single” song but might have multiple secondary songs. Very common to have the traditional 2 songs and include lots of remixes of the “main” song.
  • “EP”: Since at this point there is little real difference between an EP and an album, logical definitions were made. According to wikipedia, the RIAA says an EP is “3-5 songs, under 30 minutes” while the UK definition says “4 or fewer tracks, under 25 minutes”. At this point the physical format is basically irrelevant to the concept of an “EP”. Many EPs have “EP” appended to the title to justify the shorter length.
  • albums are still the same thing but now sold on CD and start to get a little longer.

1990s and beyond: digital
Since digital media can be any length essentially without regard to physical format, the distinctions are mainly down to tradition. Lots of artists love to push the boundaries of these definitions in one way or another. “EP”, “album”, and “single” basically mean whatever the artist intends it to mean, and the RIAA/UK chart definitions above are less relevant.

So you can see that “EP” has changed a lot over time, making a complete definition difficult without being fairly specific about the era.


Probably. Where you have access to covers and labels I’d say if it’s not named after the first track (or two) it’s not a single.


I’m trying to think of scenarios where conflicting usages of “E.P.” would de-grade the usefulness of MusicBrainz.

So far - a collector/musicologist, familiar with “vinyl speak”, searches MB db for E.P., sardinia, pre-1955 and misses many 4 track 45s that are catologued as “single”.


Emphasis mine.

Where do you see the conflict?


With the current document Release group/ Type


But what’s the conflict? The description there is so vague that it’s hard for it to contradict anything else.

Basically the definition in MB says “It’s shorter than an LP and sometimes it has EP in the title” … are you saying that there’s a conflict with some definition that says it must be longer than an LP or must not have EP in the title?


“usually it should only be assumed that a release is an EP if the artist defines it as such”

EDIT: May have found the loop-hole.
Though the artists didn’t define these records as E.P.s the label and subsequent catalogers did.