A mini-LP or mini-album is a short vinyl record album or LP, usually retailing at a lower price than an album that would be considered full-length. It is distinct from an EP due to containing more tracks and a slightly longer running length.
Mini-LPs became popular in the early 1980s with record companies who targeted consumers who were reluctant to buy full-length and full-priced albums. Several mini-LPs had been released in the late 1970s, including John Cooper Clarke's Walking Back to Happiness, which used the 10-inch format. The format was usually 12-inch or 10-inch vinyl, with a playing time of between twenty and thirty minutes, and around seven tracks. They were often used as a way of introducing new acts to the market or as a way of releasing interim albums by established acts between their main albums. Epic Records introduced the 10-inch Nu-Disk format in the early 1980s but they found it difficult to merchandise, and 12-inch mini-LPs became more common. Notable mini-LPs of the early 1980s included U2's Under a Blood Red Sky, which reached number 2 on the UK Albums Chart in 1983, and The Honeydrippers' Volume 1, which reached number 4 on the Billboard 200 in 1984.
Independent record labels often released mini-LPs by artists before releasing full-length albums, and 4AD took this approach with Pixies Come on Pilgrim debut in 1987, while also using the format for the second album by Throwing Muses, The Fat Skier, in the same year.
- Grein, Paul (1982) "Retailers, Labels Predict Greater Role for Mini-LPs", Billboard, 30 October 1982, p. 1, 67
- Gimarc, George (2005) Punk Diary: The Ultimate Trainspotter's Guide to Underground Rock 1970-1982, Backbeat Books, ISBN 0-87930-848-6, p. 215
- Strong, Martin C. (2002) The Great Rock Discography, 6th edition, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-312-1
- U2 - Under a Blood Red Sky, Chart Stats, retrieved 15 December 2009
- Denberg, Jody (1985) "Dancing in the Streets", Texas Monthly, December 1985, p. 198
- Strong, Martin C. (2003) The Great Indie Discography, Canongate, ISBN 1-84195-335-0