Do I need a Barcode to sell my CD?
I’m often asked by my clients whether they need a barcode to sell their CD in shops. The simple answer is yes. I have many clients that just wish to sell their CDs at gigs so in that case a barcode would not be needed.
What is an EAN barcode?
An EAN barcode (European Article Number) is used to represent and track your CD as an entire physical product compared to an ISRC code which represents individual tracks or sound recordings.
Everything you need to know about ISRC codes.
Why you need a Barcode
When selling your CD in a shop a barcode is used to track your sales. Stores will not sell your CD without a barcode.
Each CD release (single/E.P./L.P.) needs a separate barcode. When you purchase a barcode you will be provided with a graphic to add to your artwork. This would usually be added to the artwork on the back of the CD.
There are two main types of barcodes EAN and UPC (Universal Product Code). EAN is a 13 digit number usually from the UK and Europe. UPC is a 12 digit number usually from North America. Both forms can be used Worldwide.
Where can I buy a Barcode?
GS1 is the main supplier of barcodes Worldwide. You can buy directly from them but there is a yearly fee and other costs. This may be suitable if you are a large retail outlet with millions of products and you need a package to handle large numbers of bar codes but not needed if you are an independent music artist releasing one or two albums per year.
My client Dale Sumner (Opus Melodi) who is an independent artist has successfully used Barcode Numbers | Barcode1 UK. Before doing so he was able to find the website address of someone who had left a testimonial and sent them an email to verify the testimonial. It was a solo music artist doing exactly the same thing that Dale was doing: releasing albums independently. He reported that their service was good, efficient and he had not had any issues at all with their barcodes.
Before ordering his barcode Dale emailed Barcode1 to clarify what was different about purchasing a CD/DVD barcode package rather than a normal bar code package. The answer was there isn't anything different they just list it that way to help independent artists who apparently were always asking if the 'normal' package was sufficient for a commercial CD release.
Ordering the bar code itself was easy and Dale had the order confirmation within less than a minute. The zip file containing the bar code in five image formats, plus a certificate of authenticity followed very shortly afterwards.
After trying out the barcode on his artwork and resizing it according to the instructions on their website Dale emailed them again to make sure what he had done was correct and wouldn't compromise the effectiveness of the code. The person who responded (Moya) was very helpful and attached the same files at 80% magnification for him in her response. Dale received her response the same day.
Dale found their website easy to use with clear and concise instructions. As mentioned above they were quick to respond to emails and were very helpful.
A tip for anyone who is planning to release a CD album independently with a barcode: Check that the barcode works before mass production of the CDs! You can ask your CD replicator/duplicator to send you a test run of the artwork and all you need to do is make a copy of the part that has the barcode printed and get your local supermarket with a scanner to test it. If it works the scanner should go ‘ping’. There won’t be any data associated with the product as this is done by the retailer but at least you can be assured that retailers can use it.
Thank you to Dale Sumner for sharing his experience with me.