Both CMTA genre codes and SPCN codes are present on items sold in Christian music and book stores.

CMTA genre codes

Music releases from members of the Christian Music Trade Association often feature a six-character genre code printed near the barcode. These codes are created and tracked by the CMTA to help retail personnel arrange similar releases together, and assist the tracking of sales in the Christian SoundScan system. The code placed on each release is determined by the releasing label. A list of these codes is available from the CMTA web site in Microsoft Word (.doc) format. This list is reformatted and presented as a table on this page.

The first two characters define the main category (broad genres/styles). The second two characters define the sub categories (more specific genres/styles). The third two characters define the theme (holidays or other occasions). A code is padded with XX if the full six characters are not needed; XX appears as the last 2 characters frequently as most releases are not geared toward holidays. Example: the code on Various - WOW Hits 2012 (30 of Today's Top Christian Artists and Hits) is CPCMXX, which means “Contemporary/Pop, Compilation”.

Main category codes marked with * require a sub-category code for chart flagging.

It is apparent that the CMTA codes on some releases are not formatted correctly (are not 6 characters long, have the codes out of order, or contain nonsensical codes), and, on rare occasions, CMTA codes appear on releases from non-CMTA labels (Situation - A New Wave of Joy).

Impact on Discogs.com: When submitting a release containing such a genre code, please enter it in the “Barcodes and Other Identifiers” section of the form as an “Other”, and list the description as “CMTA Code”. These genres and styles don’t mesh well with the Discogs genres available, and usually didn’t accurately categorize the releases anyway (for instance, Joy Electric - Hello, Mannequin and Anberlin - Blueprints for the Black Market, miles apart stylistically but on the same label, have the same code: RKRKXX).

Music codes

        <b>Main Categories/Store Section—Digits 1–2</b>
        <b>Sub Categories (Within Store Sections—Digits 3–4)</b>
        <b>Theme (Digits 5–6)</b>


        AM
        Alternative/Modern
        AA
        Acappella
        CS
        Christmas


        CH
        Children’s
        AC
        Adult Contemp/Inspo
        EA
        Easter


        CR
        Choral
        AM
        Alternative/Modern
        FD
        Father’s Day


        CL
        Classical
        BG
        Bluegrass
        GR
        Graduation


        CO\*
        Comedy
        CA
        Catholic
        MD
        Mother’s Day


        CP
        Contemporary/Pop
        CE
        Celtic
        PA
        Patriotic


        CW
        Country
        CH
        Children’s
        TG
        Thanksgiving


        DA\*
        Dance
        CR
        Choral
        VT
        Valentines


        GS
        Gospel
        CL
        Classical
        WD
        Wedding


        IP
        Inspirational
        CT
        Collection
        XX
        No Theme


        IN
        Instrumental
        CO
        Comedy




        JZ\*
        Jazz
        CM
        Compilation




        PT
        Performance Track
        CP
        Contemporary/Pop




        PW
        Praise & Worship
        CW
        Country




        RP
        Rap/Hip Hop
        DA
        Dance




        RK
        Rock
        FL
        Folk




        ST\*
        Soundtrack
        GS
        Gospel




        SG
        Southern Gospel
        HR
        Hard Rock




        LS
        Latin/Spanish
        HY
        Hymns




        RB
        R&B
        IN
        Instrumental




        VO\*
        Vocal
        JZ
        Jazz




        WD\*
        Wedding
        KT
        Karaoke




        MW
        Modern Worship
        LS
        Latin/Spanish






        LB
        Lullabies






        MS
        Messianic






        MT
        Metal






        MU
        Musical






        OR
        Orchestral






        PI
        Piano






        PW
        Praise &Worship






        PK
        Punk






        MW
        Modern Worship






        RP
        Rap/Hip Hop






        RG
        Reggae






        RM
        Regional Mexican






        RK
        Rock






        SI
        Singles






        SK
        Ska






        ST
        Soundtrack






        SG
        Southern Gospel






        TD
        Traditional






        TP
        Tropical






        UR
        Urban/R&B






        WO
        World






        YH
        Youth






        XX
        No Sub Category

Video codes

        <b>Main Categories/Store Section—Digits 1–2</b>
        <b>Sub Categories (Within Store Sections—Digits 3–4)</b>


        VH
        Video Main Category
        MC
        Music




        CH
        Children’s




        GN
        General

More information is available from CMTA: What are CMTA codes and what are they used for? What is a CMTA Code and how is it used? Benefits for Retail.

SPCN codes

SPCN codes were proprietary 10-digit product identification codes, or stock control numbers, printed on a wide range of items sold in Christian book and music stores. Word, a major label and distributor in the industry, began using SPCNs in 1983 as catalog numbers for all releases that they distributed. SPCNs were also included on Christian Music Trade Association releases until the assignment of those codes was discontinued on November 1, 2000. At that time, all product identification transitioned to the more universal UPC bar code standard. (More information on the SPCN–UPC transition is available at the CMTA web site). During the transition, SPCN codes appeared in addition to standard barcodes (printed near the barcodes). “SPCN” likely was an abbreviation for “Standard (or Special) Product Code (or Control) Number”.

Format: SPCN codes are almost always prefixed with “SPCN”. They appear in this form: SPCN DDD RRRR XYZ. DDD indicates the distributor. RRRR is a “record number”, defined by the label, and appears to be something like a “base catalog number” across all the formats of a particular release. XY indicates the format, and each label appears to have its own pattern. The last digit, Z, can be any numerical digit (0 to 9) or “X”, which stands for “10”. The Z digit appears to be random, but there is a mathematical pattern between the LP, cassette, and CD of the same release.

SPCNs are sometimes printed with spaces or hyphens in various positions, or sometimes as unbroken strings of digits. SPCNs are (almost?) always printed near the barcode.

For the DDD (distribution) code, “701” is known to be the code for Word.

For the XY (format) code, in Word’s system, “10” = LP, “50” = cassette, and “60” = CD. In Reunion Records’ system, “12” = LP, “52” = cassette, and “72” = CD.

For the Z digit, the cassette code plus 1 equals the LP code. The LP code plus 4 equals the CD code.

(Source—bsnpubs.com: Word Records Story, Word Album Discography, Part 11, Reunion Album Discography, Part 1.)

Impact on Discogs.com: If an SPCN code is being used as a catalog number, please enter it as a catalog number, complete with the “SPCN” prefix. When submitting a release containing both a conventional catalog number plus an SPCN code, please enter the catalog number in the usual catalog number field, and the SPCN in the “Barcodes and Other Identifiers” section of the form as an “Other”, with the description as “SPCN”. Enter all hyphens, spaces, and trailing characters verbatim.


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