Do I Need A Barcode To Sell My Music?
We're often asked whether or not artists need a UPC barcode to sell their music in shops and in the major online music stores. The simple answer is, yes, but here are some of your most common questions about music barcodes answered:
Music barcodes explained
What is a UPC barcode?
A UPC barcode (or Universal Product Code) is used to represent and track your music as an entire physical or digital product, in contrast to an ISRC code which represents individual tracks or sound recordings.
Why you need a barcode
Whether you are selling your CD in a shop or on iTunes and other digital stores, a barcode is used to track your sales. Stores (digital or physical) will not sell music without one so you don't really have a choice. Ditto Music gives you free barcodes with your release and there is no reason why you ever need to pay for one.
Each release (single/EP/album) needs a separate barcode. For physical CDs, this will be a graphic usually on the back of the CD. For digital releases, this is a number that stores use to track your sales. These are two forms of the same thing.
How Many Barcodes Do I Need For A Release?
In the UK you need a different barcode number for your CD and your digital release. Ditto Music will provide as many free barcodes as you need per release.
Do I Need A Different Barcode For Each Release?
Yes. This is for sales tracking. If you had two releases with the same barcode then the store would not know which to count the sales towards.
Can't I Just Make Up A Barcode?
Unfortunately not. The numbers are calculated by a complicated formula and the first half is unique to the company that owns them. All systems are set up to detect fake barcodes. This is to keep all barcodes unique. Otherwise, your sales would go to another artist with the same barcode.
The Technical Bit:
For all you geeks out there: There are two main types of barcodes, UPC and EAN13. UPC is a 12-digit number usually from North America. EAN13 is a 13-digit number usually from the UK. Both forms can be used Worldwide. Online retailers systems are built to accommodate 13 digits in a barcode so a digit 0 would be added to the start of a UPC. For the physical barcode the number would remain as 12 digits.