Resources - What Is A Catalogue Number?

Back in the 'old days' before record labels were using barcodes and ISRC codes to identify and track individual products, they used catalogue numbers. It's still very common to see catalogue numbers being used by record labels and independent artists alike.

Create Your Own Catalogue Number

There's no golden rule about how a catalogue number should be structured, so it's up to you to create your own. A lot of catalogue numbers actually start with letters and are then followed by numbers. Here's a common example on how they can be used:

A new record label is formed called "John Doe Records" and they choose to use the initials of their company as a 'prefix' for their catalogue number (ie: JDR). They have no idea how many albums they will release in the lifetime of the label so they decide to use a five digit numbering sequence to identify each release (ie: JDR00001 for the first release, JDR00002 for the second release, JDR00003 for the third release, and so on).

Do you have to register your catalogue number with some sort of database or government or industry association? In short: No you do not. Check out this link to see how some of the major record labels got started using catalogue numbers.

Indie-Artists Often Use Catalogue Numbers

As previously noted, there's no golden rule about how a catalogue number can be structured, but there's also no rule about who can use. Many independent artists use catalogue numbers to identify their individual releases, so it's not just record labels or distributors that use them.

Where To Place Your Catalogue Number

The most common place to put your catalogue number is on the spine of your CD case, but some people also like to put them on their CD too. The catalogue number doesn't have to be in a large type size, but don't make it so small that it's hard to read.

Are Catalogue Numbers Used for DVD?

Yes, catalogue numbers are also used for DVD releases and the same rules noted for CD also apply for DVD.

Avoid Confusion

If you plan on releasing more than one album (or DVD) and you plan on creating your own catalogue number, it's a very good idea to stick with your catalogue number sequence to avoid confusion later on.