It’s hard to not forget about Elvis Presley’s EP sales. Not that they are weak, but this format disappeared so long ago that when talking about records sales we tend to think about singles and albums only. Introduced to the market in 1952 by his upcoming label, RCA, EPs were still struggling until the arrival of the legendary rocker.
In fact, it’s precisely Presley who fueled sales of this format. Created as a competition to the LP, itself a fairly young format by then, EPs had a hard time to find their place. The general public was going after singles for pricing reasons while rich people liked LPs since they were regarded as a luxury item during the 50s. When the singer exploded in 1956, teenagers wanted everything of him, but LPs were just too expensive to afford. That’s when RCA deconstructed his early LPs into multiple EPs, selling massive numbers with them.
The example of his second album Elvis is striking. This 12-songs LP sold half a million units stateside during its promotional life. While that’s already a stunning number for that time, it was also divided into a trio of 4-songs EPs, Elvis Vol 1, Elvis Vol 2 and Strictly Elvis (titled Elvis Vol 3 abroad). These EPs moved 1,75 million units combined in the US alone.
Geographically speaking, the format had a very different evolution in several countries. In the US, it was very short lived. While by 1956, Presley was the only one already able to sell well with them, from early 60s it was also collapsing. In various markets, the format never took off. In a few others though, led by France, EPs represented almost the entire ‘singles’ markets. They were also strong in Spain and Italy. Our focus artist was a fairly weak seller there by then yet.
The UK got into EPs when Americans were giving them up. In 1960, Cliff Richard and the Shadows got the first 150,000 units seller with Expresso Bong. Presley was the second to get there a couple of years later with Follow That Dream. It must be said that this EP along with the follow up Kid Galahad, were original soundtracks. The singer had too few songs to fill LPs with them, thus dropping new material through EPs which was quite unnatural at the time. It did wonders with both records topping the UK EP Chart of Record Retailer for 20 and 18 weeks, respectively.
It’s time to check his career EP sales, both in the US and abroad.