What is a UPC bar code and why do I need one?

A UPC bar code is a unique 12-digit serial number that identifies your specific product among all the other products on the marketplace.

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

This is because all of these organizations track and report sales based on the UPC code.

Can I use my own UPC? 

If you already have a UPC code for your album, you can enter that in the registration form when signing up with us. 

Can I get a UPC from CD Baby? 

If you don't already have a UPC you will be given the option to purchase one from us during the sign up process. The fee for us to assign you a UPC is $20 for an album submission and $5 for a single submission. 

If you want to purchase a UPC from us you'll need to create a CD Baby account, sign up the information about your album or single, then pay the submission fee and barcode fee at checkout.

It takes just a few hours for us to make your bar code and we will email you when it is ready and assigned to your project. We give you a BITMAP graphic file, which you can either place into your album art, or print onto stickers. We don't do the printing for you. We just give you the unique UPC bar code graphic and digits.

What are the benefits of purchasing a UPC from CD Baby?

When you buy a barcode from us it will be entirely yours, forever. When your bar code 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.

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.

But most independent artists are only going to release a few records - 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 bar code from our prefix. 


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