CMTA genre codes and SPCN codes

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 presented on this page as a long list, since tables and bullet lists won’t display correctly due to this site’s bugggy implementation of Markdown formatting.

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 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

Main Categories/Store Section – Digits 1–2 .
Alternative/Modern = AM .
Children’s = CH .
Choral = CR .
Classical = CL .
Comedy = CO* .
Contemporary/Pop = CP .
Country = CW .
Dance = DA* .
Gospel = GS .
Inspirational = IP .
Instrumental = IN .
Jazz = JZ* .
Performance Track = PT .
Praise & Worship = PW .
Rap/Hip Hop = RP .
Rock = RK .
Soundtrack = ST* .
Southern Gospel = SG .
Latin/Spanish = LS .
R&B = RB .
Vocal = VO* .
Wedding = WD* .
* Modern Worship = MW .

Sub Categories (Within Store Sections – Digits 3-4) .
Acappella = AA .
Adult Contemp/Inspo = AC .
Alternative/Modern = AM .
Bluegrass = BG .
Catholic = CA .
Celtic = CE .
Children’s = CH .
Choral = CR .
Classical = CL .
Collection = CT .
Comedy = CO .
Compilation = CM .
Contemporary/Pop = CP .
Country = CW .
Dance = DA .
Folk = FL .
Gospel = GS .
Hard Rock = HR .
Hymns = HY .
Instrumental = IN .
Jazz = JZ .
Karaoke = KT .
Latin/Spanish = LS .
Lullabies = LB .
Messianic = MS .
Metal = MT .
Musical = MU .
Orchestral = OR .
Piano = PI .
Praise &Worship = PW .
Punk = PK .
Modern Worship = MW .
Rap/Hip Hop = RP .
Reggae = RG .
Regional Mexican = RM .
Rock = RK .
Singles = SI .
Ska = SK .
Soundtrack = ST .
Southern Gospel = SG .
Traditional = TD .
Tropical = TP .
Urban/R&B = UR .
World = WO .
Youth = YH .
No Sub Category = XX .

Theme (Digits 5-6) .
Christmas = CS .
Easter = EA .
Father’s Day = FD .
Graduation = GR .
Mother’s Day = MD .
Patriotic = PA .
Thanksgiving = TG .
Valentines = VT .
Wedding = WD .
No Theme = XX .

Video Main Category: VH .
Sub-categories: .
Music = MC .
Children’s = CH .
* General = GN .

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— Word Records Story, Word Album Discography, Part 11, Reunion Album Discography, Part 1.)

Impact on 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 remember that “X” is frequently the final digit.

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