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Where is the Catalogue Number on a Record?

Vinyl Catalogue number

Holly |

The catalogue number on a record is typically found on the record label or the record sleeve. It is usually a unique alphanumeric code assigned by the record label to identify a specific release. On the record label, the catalogue number is often located near the centre of the label, while on the record sleeve, it may be printed along the spine or on the back cover. You may also be able to find the catalogue number in the matrix etchings of the record.

Why do Records Have Catalogue Numbers?

Records have catalogue numbers primarily for organisation and identification purposes. Each catalogue number uniquely identifies a specific release, making it easier for record labels, distributors, and retailers to keep track of their inventory and sales. 

Catalogue numbers also help collectors and consumers distinguish between different versions or pressings of the same album, especially when there are multiple releases or reissues over time. Additionally, catalogue numbers can provide valuable information about the record's label, format, and release date.

What About Barcodes?

Barcodes began appearing on records in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the music industry adopted standardised methods for inventory management and sales tracking. However, the widespread use of barcodes on records didn't become common until the mid-1980s. 

Before barcodes, records were primarily identified by their catalogue numbers. The introduction of barcodes allowed for more efficient and accurate handling of inventory, streamlining the distribution process and providing valuable sales data to the industry.

Why Are Catalogue Numbers and Barcodes Useful?

Catalogue numbers and barcodes are invaluable tools for collectors, aiding in the identification, organisation, and tracking of records within a collection. By providing unique identifiers for each record, catalogue numbers help you to accurately keep track of new additions. Barcodes further enhance this process by allowing you to quickly scan and catalogue records, facilitating accurate record-keeping.

You can scan barcodes on your phone using Discogs.

Additionally, catalogue numbers and barcodes can provide valuable information about a record's release, including its label, pressing, and other details, helping collectors assess its authenticity and value. Learn more about how to uncover information about a record.

How Can I Locate a Catalogue Number?

Let’s locate the catalogue number on some common albums and singles...

1 - Band On The Run - Wings

Band On The Run

The catalogue number for this UK press of Band On The Run by Wings is PAS 10007. It can be found in the top right of the back of the sleeve, or on the right of the label.

Below PAS 10007 on the back of the sleeve, you will also find a code starting with OC. This is a more specific code which applies to only a handful of versions of this album. It is similar to other European pressings, which have codes beginning with 2C (France), 5C (Netherlands) or 3C (Italy).

PAS indicates that this is a record released by Apple Records, although not all of their releases feature this code.

2 - Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel

Bridge over troubled water
Bridge over troubled water

This catalogue number of 63699 or S 63699 is very typical of CBS Records. You will often find that earlier CBS releases feature letters before the number on the label, and just the number on the sleeve.

This can sometimes make it more difficult to search for your version, as others may have used one or the other to log it online.

3 - This Charming Man - The Smiths

This charming man
Bridge over troubled water

This 7" release features a barcode in addition to a catalogue number, which indicates that it is a slightly more recent release than those featured above.

The catalogue number still appears on the release, however, which is usually the case. The UK catalogue number is YZ0001. Below this on the sleeve, you will also find the barcode written out, and the French catalogue number WE 171.

4 - Twist And Shout - The Beatles

Twist and shout
twist and shout

This is quite an early release from The Beatles, dating from 1963. It features the catalogue number GEP 8882.

If you've tried searching somewhere like Discogs for this code, you might find that there are still lots of results (we get 67 possible releases!). This is because there are further details you'll need to use to identify exactly which version you have in your hands.

It will come down to the country of press, the font of the text, where the sleeve was made, and what is etched in the runout. You can learn more about this in our post about how to value vinyl records, or our post about matrix codes.

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