A UPC barcode is a unique 12-digit serial number that identifies your specific product among all the other products on the marketplace. All releases require a UPC barcode.
In this article, we will cover:
- Why you need a UPC
- If you can use your own
- Getting a UPC barcode from CD Baby
- The benefits of getting a UPC barcode from CD Baby
- Where to find your UPC barcode in your CD Baby account
- I can make my own UPC prefix from GS1, right?
- Why is it NOT OK for me to customize or edit an existing UPC barcode?
Why do I need a UPC?
You need a UPC if you want to:
- Participate in our digital distribution program
- Participate in our in-store distribution program
- Have CD Baby report your sales to SoundScan
- Participate in social video monetization
This is because all of these organizations track, and report sales based on the UPC barcode.
Can I use my own UPC?
If you already have a UPC code for your release, you will have the chance to enter that into our system during the sign-up process.
Your system won't take my barcode! What's up with that?
If you receive an error message while entering your barcode, here are some things to check.
- Make sure you're entering exactly 12 or 13 numbers.
- Your barcode may already be in our system. Make sure you have not used this on a previous release.
- Did you purchase a mega bundle from one of our sister companies? If so, that probably means your project has already been transferred to CD Baby. If it's not in your account, please contact us.
Do I have my own UPC barcode? How would I know?
If you've already had CDs or Vinyl printed, chances are you also bought a UPC barcode from that manufacturer. You should be using that UPC barcode when you sign up that release with CD Baby.
If you purchased a megabundle with one of our sister companies, you likely do have a barcode already. If you're not sure, please reach out to your project manager at the manufacturing company.
Can I get a UPC from CD Baby?
If you don't already have a UPC barcode you will be given the option to have one assigned to you during sign-up.
If you’d like to get one from us, create a CD Baby account, sign up the information about your album or single, then pay the fee at checkout.
What are the benefits of getting a UPC from CD Baby?
When you buy a barcode from us it will be entirely yours, forever. When your barcode on your CD is scanned by a retail store, it will show up on the register as YOUR album, YOUR band, YOUR record company. Not CD Baby.
Where do I find my UPC barcode?
Once you have paid the release fee, we will automatically email you with a barcode number about 24 hours after you have submitted your payment.
You can also download your barcode number from within your account, in the following formats: JPG, BPM, PNG, TIFF, GIFF.
To do so:
- Log into your account CD Baby account.
- Click on the “Album & Singles” tab at the top of the page or “View All Releases” in the lower right.
- You will see the barcode numbers listed under the header "UPC / EAN" for each title.
- If you need to download, simply click on the numbers.
- This page will give you the option to download the barcode and/or copy and paste the numbers.
Can't I buy my own UPC prefix from GS1?
You may have heard that UPC bar codes cost $750. You could go register as a company with the GS1 US organization and pay them $750 to be a GS1 US member. They would assign you a UPC prefix, and you could release thousands of products under that company registration. Most independent artists are only going to release a - and paying $750 wipes out all the profit you'd make from your first 100 album sales.
CD Baby has paid the $750 and can give you your own unique UPC barcode from our prefix.
Why can’t I customize or edit an existing UPC barcode?
A UPC barcode identifies an individual product in the marketplace. If you want SoundScan to track each sale, then you should purchase a valid unique barcode for your album/single and have all sales tallied and reported according to THAT serial number.
It is acceptable to have different bar codes for different formats of the same album: vinyl, download, CD, etc. However, if you assign another album's barcode to a new release, combine two barcode numbers, or make up an invalid barcode number, you may be removed from CD Baby or any of our third-party distributors (digital and in-store).
Using an incorrect or invalid barcode causes serious confusion for our distribution partners and can potentially limit another artist's ability to have their sales reported accurately.