Identifiers on European CBS and Sony Music releases

Background

On European releases from CBS and Sony Music various numbering systems
can be found, that are somehow related to the catalogue number of the
release. This article provides an overview of the current insights
regarding these numbers.

The information provided here was discussed before on the Discogs
Forum
. The information
contained in this article is based on an extensive evaluation of a large
number of CBS/Sony Music releases in the Discogs database. It is not
based on any official information. Several people have tried to get an
official statement from Sony Music regarding the codes but no official
information has been provided so far. Therefore it may or may not be
completely accurate and/or comprehensive.

Also there may be exceptions that don't fit into the numbering systems
below. Especially when a release comes out in many different formats,
sometimes numbers appear on releases that don't seem to match the
numbering systems, for instance because a number has allready been used
for another format of that release. The systems presented here however
should match about 80% of all CBS / Sony Music releases.

As an approach, I would like to propose that any cases that do not match
the numbering schemes provided below are discussed in the discussion
section of this article first before changing the article.

Catalogue Numbers

The catalogue number on CBS and Sony Music releases until 2005 when Sony
Music merged with BMG has the form:

xxxxxx x

The first six digits are the unique identifier of a release. The last
digit indicates the format of the release. Since there have been are far
more different formats over the years than one digit can identify, the
value of the last digit may be the same on different formats.

A release that comes in different formats such as 7", 12" and CD
maxi-single will usually have the same first 6 digits in the catalogue
number, but differs in the last digit.

Album Releases

For album releases the first digit is a 4 for releases until 2000.
Starting 2000 the first digit is a 5. The following formats can be
identified by the last digit:

  • xxxxxx 0: LP, LP Special or Limited Edition, CD Special or Limited
    Edition
  • xxxxxx 1: LP
  • xxxxxx 2: CD
  • xxxxxx 3: CD + CD-ROM
    (example) or CD + DVD-V
    (example)
  • xxxxxx 4: cassette
  • xxxxxx 5: CD variation for specific market
    (example)
  • xxxxxx 6: LP or SACD
  • xxxxxx 7: 2CD, CD + VideoCD
  • xxxxxx 8: MiniDisc
  • xxxxxx 9: CD Special or Limited Edition, EP, Box Set, CD Album + CD
    maxi-single set and various other formats

Single Releases

For album releases the first digit is a 6. The following formats can be
identified by the last digit:

  • 6xxxxx 0: 7" Special or Limited Edition, 2 x 7", 7" + cassette,
    second / third / remixes 5" CD maxi-single, second / third / remixes
    12" single or 10" single
  • 6xxxxx 1: 12" or 3" or 5" CD-single (usually 2 tracks)
  • 6xxxxx 2: 3" CD maxi-single with adapter in 5" sleeve or 5" CD
    maxi-single (usually more than 2 tracks)
  • 6xxxxx 3: 3" CD maxi-single
  • 6xxxxx 4: cassette single
    (example)
  • 6xxxxx 5: second / third / remixes 12" or second / third / remixes
    3" or 5" CD maxi-single
  • 6xxxxx 6: 12" single
  • 6xxxxx 7: 7" single
  • 6xxxxx 8: second / third / remixes 12" or 5" CD (maxi)-single in
    different packaging
    (example)
  • 6xxxxx 9: second / third / remixes 12", DVD-Single
    (example) or 5" CD
    (maxi)-single for different market with different tracks
    (example)

Other Formats

For video releases the first digit is a 2. The following formats can be
identified by the last digit:

  • 2xxxxx 3: VideoCD
  • 2xxxxx 9: DVD

Elaboration and Examples

David Bowie - Heathen is a nice
example of an album coming in many different formats, which shows how
the numbering system works and why the same formats can have different
digits.

  • 508222 2: regular CD album
  • 508222 9: Limited Edition 2CD album
  • 508222 0: Limited Edition CD album in LP sized gatefold cover
  • 508222 4: cassette album
  • 508222 1: LP album

Nas - Gods Son is another
example:

  • 509811 2: regular CD album
  • 509811 9: CD album with bonus track
  • 509811 7: 2CD with Enhanced disc for Australian market
  • 509811 5: 2CD without Enhanced section for European market
  • 509811 1: LP album

This section provides an overview of the various numbering schemes that
can be found on CBS and Sony Music releases that are somehow related to
the catalogue number.

yy-xxxxxx-zz (approx. 1983 - 1999)

Background

This coding structure seems to have been on releases manufactured in
Europe. It is not available on UK manufactured releases. First
occurances of a system similar to this are from around 1983. In 1999 the
coding system disappeared from the releases.

The numbers are usually printed on the various elements of a release, so
on the disc, the inlay and the booklet. In a certain period of time the
coding was also exactly the same as the matrix number of that release.

The exact purpose of this coding structure is still unknown. According
to current insights it's not regarded to be a catalogue number on
Discogs. It's most likely an internal tracking code of the record
company.

Structure

The scheme yy-xxxxxx-zz consists of the following elements:

  • xxxxxx: the catalogue number of the release without the last
    (format-indicating) digit
  • yy: the country for which a release is intended
  • zz: format indication (more specific than the last digit of the
    catalogue number)
Country Indication

The country part of the identifier indicates for what specific country a
release is intended. If the country part is "01" it indicates an
international release that is released in several or most of all
European countries. If the country part is not "01" it is a specific
release for a certain country.

  • 01-xxxxxx-zz: International release
  • 07-xxxxxx-zz: Germany
  • 08-xxxxxx-zz: Releases manufactured in the Netherlands for other
    (non-CBS/Sony) labels
  • 09-xxxxxx-zz: Sweden
  • 10-xxxxxx-zz: Denmark
  • 11-xxxxxx-zz: Promo release
  • 12-xxxxxx-zz: Germany
  • 14-xxxxxx-zz: France
  • 17-xxxxxx-zz: The Netherlands
  • 21-xxxxxx-zz: Norway
  • 28-xxxxxx-zz: Belgium
  • 31-xxxxxx-zz: UK
  • 32-xxxxxx-zz: Finland
  • 37-xxxxxx-zz: Italy
  • 42-xxxxxx-zz: Spain
  • 45-xxxxxx-zz: Greece
  • 47-xxxxxx-zz: Poland
  • 48-xxxxxx-zz: Hungary

It is still unclear why there are two different codes for Germany (07
and 12). After evaluating several releases it looks like Various Artist
compilations have 07 and specific artist releases have 12.

Format Indication

The format part of the identifier indicates what the format of a release
is.

  • yy-xxxxxx-00: 7" single
  • yy-xxxxxx-10: album / compilation
  • yy-xxxxxx-11: album + CD maxi-single set or other box set
  • yy-xxxxxx-12: 3" CD-single
  • yy-xxxxxx-13: 3" CD maxi-single
  • yy-xxxxxx-14: 5" CD maxi-single
  • yy-xxxxxx-15: second / third / remixes 5" CD maxi-single
  • yy-xxxxxx-17: 3" or 5" CD-single
  • yy-xxxxxx-18: second / third / remixes 5" CD-single
  • yy-xxxxxx-19: second / third / remixes 5" CD maxi-single
  • yy-xxxxxx-20: 12" single / LP
  • yy-xxxxxx-21: second / remixes 12"
  • yy-xxxxxx-23: second / third / remixes 12"
  • yy-xxxxxx-29: 10"
  • yy-xxxxxx-30: cassette
  • yy-xxxxxx-35: cassette single
  • yy-xxxxxx-50: MiniDisc
  • yy-xxxxxx-85: VideoCD
Translating Format Indicators

It is possible to make a translation of format indicators from the
yy-xxxxxx-zz scheme to the catalogue number scheme. Each variant of zz
has a matching last digit in the catalogue number. Some examples:

  • yy-6xxxxx-00 -> 6xxxxx 7
  • yy-xxxxxx-11 -> xxxxxx 9
  • yy-6xxxxx-13 -> 6xxxxx 3 or 6xxxxx 2 if with adapter and in 5"
    sleeve
  • yy-xxxxxx-14 -> 6xxxxx 2
  • yy-6xxxxx-15 -> 6xxxxx 0 or 6xxxxx 5
  • yy-6xxxxx-17 -> 6xxxxx 1
  • yy-6xxxxx-18 -> 6xxxxx 9
  • yy-6xxxxx-19 -> 6xxxxx 5
  • yy-xxxxxx-20 -> xxxxxx 1 (LP) or 6xxxxx 6 (12")
  • yy-6xxxxx-21 -> 6xxxxx 5
  • yy-6xxxxx-23 -> 6xxxxx 0
  • yy-6xxxxx-29 -> 6xxxxx 0
  • yy-xxxxxx-30 -> xxxxxx 4
  • yy-6xxxxx-50 -> 6xxxxx 8
  • yy-2xxxxx-85 -> 2xxxxx 3

Please note that no direct translation can be made from the catalogue
number scheme to the yy-xxxxxx-zz scheme, as the last digit does not
uniquely identify a zz-code. The same last digit is used for different
zz codes.

Elaboration and Examples

Based on this information CBS and Sony Music releases in the Discogs
database from that era can be verified. For example, if a release with
28-xxxxxx-14 is listed as a German CD-Single, you can be 99% sure it's
wrong because it's actually a Belgian CD Maxi-Single.

Sometimes the codes are not consistent on all elements of a release. On
the release Celine Dion - The Colour Of My
Love
the following codes can be
found:

  • 31-474743-10 on the inlay and CD
  • 01-474743-10 on the booklet

This is a UK release with a booklet intended for the "international
market". How this combination came together is unclear. Could be a shop
owner who replaced a missing / damaged booklet with another copy, or it
could be that the combination was created in the Sony / DADC
manufacturing plant, or whatever reason you can think of.

Possible (hypothetical) variations could be an international
01-xxxxxx-zz release that gets a sleeve sticker for a specific country
which states "as seen on television" or something similar. Imagine that
this sticker was ony added for the UK market, and that it refers to a UK
TV show. Now the disc, booklet and inlay may have 01-xxxxxx-zz while the
sticker only will have 31-xxxxxx-zz.

Non-CBS/Sony Releases with 08-xxxxxx-20

Releases with codes in the format 08-xxxxxx-20 are used on vinyl (LP and
12") releases manufactured in the Netherlands for other labels than
CBS/Sony. Most well-known releases to include these codes are releases
from Mute.

The releases are manufactured in the vinyl pressing plant in Haarlem,
the Netherlands, just outside Amsterdam. It was founded in 1958 and
operated by CBS/Sony between 1969 and June 1998 when a company called
Record Industry took over. The
pressing plant is still active and they claim to be the worlds largest.

According to Record Industry, these codes should be regarded as
"internal factory sequence numbers". This description is only valid for
the 08-xxxxxx-20 scheme, in which the xxxxxx part is indeed a unique
number assigned by the pressing plant. On CBS/Sony releases, the xxxxxx
is related to the catalog number of that release.

Record Industry continued to use this format up until about 2004 when
they seem to have dropped the 08- and -20 and continued using just the
sequence number. The sequence number continues up until today. In 2009
it had reached about 85000 and the oldest in this sequence found is
11545 from 1989. Other sequences exist, between 1984 and 1995 from 22837
to 33205 can be found.

A list of releases can be found
here.

(Source:
http://www.discogs.com/help/forums/topic/224380?page=1#2766533)

xxxxxxx000 (approx. 2000 - today) (under development)

The xxxxxxx000 format was introduced right after the xx-xxxxxx-xx format
was dismissed. It contains the full 7 digits of the catalogue number,
extended with 000.

The numbers are usually printed on the various elements of a release, so
on the disc, the inlay and the booklet. The code is also the same as the
matrix number on many releases.

The exact purpose of this coding structure is still unknown. According
to current insights it's not regarded to be a catalogue number on
Discogs.