Some facts about Virgin France

Basic timeline for Virgin in France

  • June 1980: Virgin is set up as own entity in France.
  • April 1981: Officially registered as Virgin France S.A.
  • January 1984: The cat# system changes from 6 digits (e.g. 203 198) to 5 digits (e.g. 70196) and the price codes change from AE to PM.
  • May 2001: Virgin France S.A. becomes Virgin France SAS.

Catalog numbers

Up to December 1983 the cat# system consisted of 6 digits for all formats (sometimes with blanks or dots between digits 3 and 4):
1xxxxx for 7"s (e.g. 101 585), 2xxxxx for LP (e.g. 201 893), 4xxxxx for CS (e.g. 401931), and 6xxxxx for 12" (e.g. 600202).
Starting January 1984, the system changed to 5 digits, 4xxxx and 5xxxx for cassettes, 6xxxx for 2xLP, 7xxxx for LP, 8xxxx for 12", 9xxxx for 7".

Virgin France actually reserved 50 catalog number blocks, which can be broken down into:
- 10 numbers used in 1980 (101560 to 101570),
- 20 numbers used in 1981 (101571 to 101590),
- 20 numbers used in 1982 (101591 to 101610).

Price codes

All French Virgin releases normally feature a code on the back cover, e.g. POL 100 or AE 110 or PM 291.
The codes identify companies: POL(ydor), AE (Arabella Eurodisc), PM Pathé Marconi).
- The Polydor (POL) price codes were used until 1980.
- Arabella Eurodisc (AE) distributed Virgin releases between 1980 and 1983.
- Pathé Marconi/EMI distributed Virgin releases since 1984 and thereafter.

Beware of reissues still carrying a legacy price code or of transitional releases.

AE codes (1980 - 1983)

AE codes (e.g. AE130) were not exclusively assigned to Virgin France releases.
They were used globally for various labels distributed by Eurodisc - before, during and after the Virgin France S.A. period.
However, there are typical AE codes used by Virgin France between 1980 and 1983.
The first number stands for the format:
1 = Single
2 = LP
3 = not used for Virgin France
4 = Cassette
5 = Cassette (after 1984 used for CD)

The last two numbers further specify the format and the rough release year for singles:
10 = 7" - 1980-1981
30 = 7" - 1981-1982
40 = 7" - 1982-1983
60 = 2 x 7" - 1980
70 = 12" - 1981-1983
80 = 12" - 1983
(20 and 50 not used for Virgin France releases)

for LPs:
30 = LP - 1980-1981
40 = 2 x EP - 1982
50 2 x LP - 1981
60 LP - 1981-1982
80 = LP - 1982-1983
(10, 20, 70 not used for Virgin France releases)

for CS:
30 = CS - 1980-1981
60 = CS - 1981-1982
80 = CS - 1982-1983.
(10, 20, 40, 50, 70 not used for Virgin France releases)

Care has to be taken for releases originating from outside France but bearing AE codes for France, especially for later releases.

PM codes (since 1984)

PM codes (e.g. PM 102) were not exclusively assigned to Virgin France releases but were used globally for all EMI family labels.
However, there are typical codes used by Virgin France. Judging from the inconsistent allocations especially for LPs and CDs,
these codes suggest to be price codes as well.

The first number stands for the format:
1 = Single
2 = LP
4 = CS
5 = CD
6 = CD
(3 = not used for Virgin)

The last two numbers further specify the format and the rough release year.
7" codes
PM 102: 1984-1993

12" codes
PM 132: 1984-1988
PM 212: 1988-2001

Major LP codes
PM 213: 1995-2004 (2xLP)
PM 221: 1984-1988
PM 222: 1984-1991
PM 231: 1982-1985 (EP / Mini-Album)
PM 252: 1984-1988
PM 261: 1984-1991
PM 262: 1984-1990
PM 264: 1986-2001
more codes existing...
Attention: the LP codes are also varying across countries and formats, e.g. an LP on Virgin France could
relate to a 2xLP on EMI Spain, carrying the same PM code!

Cassette single codes
PM 432: 1986-1990
PM 466: 1991-1999

Major cassette codes
PM 403: 1984-1987
PM 421: 1984-1990
PM 462: 1984-1999
PM 464: 1986-1994
PM 465: since 1995
a.m.m.

CD-Single codes
PM 506: 1986-1988
PM 515: 1988-2000

Major CD codes
PM 500: 1984-1997
PM 503: 1996-2002 (2xCD)
PM 518: 1990-2004
PM 520: 1985-2004
PM 521: 1990-2002
PM 527: 1986-2003
PM 538: 1993-2004
PM 635: 1987-2001
a.m.m.

Example: Depeche Mode's Black Celebration was released with three different PM codes: 500, 520 and 610.

Conclusions:
1. A Virgin release with a 5 digit cat# (50076 or 30222 or 70986 or 80123) can't have been released before 1984.
2. Virgin France releases with PM codes can't have been released before 1984 (and with AE code not after 1984,
except for early reissues that have kept the original artwork. Usually the old AE code is hidden underneath a removable sticker).