Catalog number for releases by EMI Classics?

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I’ve seen some confusion related to catalog numbers by EMI Classics. This is a good example how typical release by this label looks like:

  1. Multiple editors have commented to me that only bolded numbers are meaningful for EMI Classics releases. If these numbers are useless why label still continues printing them on their releases? Does it help identifying releases if we include partial data and not the full code?

  2. We have documentation about Catalog Numbers but rule 2c is rather confusing: “EMI commonly uses a “friendly” cat number for UK releases, and an unfriendly number (based on the barcode) for other territories”. Based on this rule it’s believed that correct cat. no for this release is “CZS 5 68637 2”. This code isn’t printed on release but is made by adding UK prefix code with bolded number. EMI Classical is sometimes listing their UK releases with this format like here. Is this guideline (rule 2c) understood correctly? For me it makes no sense to use catalog numbers which aren’t printed on releases.

  1. Since the full number is the barcode, there’s nothing gained by duplicating it.
  2. I’d say if it’s not on the release it’s not a cat no. (unless support for that were to be added to Musicbrainz in the future)


What? There is no rule about a catalogue number needing to be on the release. It’s a catalogue number, it’s sufficient if it is listed by the label in its catalogue under that number.


The main use in MB of a catalog number is to identify a release you have in your hands. Also we rarely have access to actual printed release catalogs. (and forget digital release catalogs, they’re subject to massive retroactive changes)


If I had the CD shown in the first post in my hands, I would assume the entire number was the catalogue number and might even add a new release using that catalogue number, thinking it might actually be a different release than one with the cat. no. “5 68637 2”. (This has happened before.)


Since question seems unresolved, one may note that it is not a unique EMI feature. Among others, also Virgin Veritas does the same thing, for instance this Rameau release:

Among labels giving a number corresponding to ‘barcode stripped of outer padding’, there is Erato, for instance this Händel release:

and Apex, for instance this Sibelius release:

Edit: That Erato “WE 807 ZS” at bottom left is apparently not a catalog number, since it is shared by several completely different releases. This Discdogs entry has it as ‘Distribution code’.


The Erato and the Apex are a different case in that the places where the catalog number is displayed clearly don’t display the extra numbers, so there’s little doubt what to use as the catno (many major label catnos are based on the barcodes, that’s not uncommon at all).

The issue is specifically what to do when it displays the whole thing, but only part of it is bolded. I generally use the whole number.


I think I’ve mainly just used the bolded part (seems the boldface must have some meaning, right?). And it makes sense: in a UPC code, the final digit is a check digit, and the leading digits identify the company. So if I’m counting right in’s example, they’ve boldfaced the product code and one digit of the manufacturer code (probably EMI has more than one).

And of course the full code is already present in the barcode field.

But I guess it’d be nice if someone actually had access to a printed catalog, and checked.


You can view an electronic copy of EMI’s 2011 catalog here:

Their product codes are listed under the heading ICPN (International Code Product Number), which is the same as an EAN or a UPC with a leading zero added. Their item numbers are 7 digits, with like you said, the product code preceded by the end of the manufacturer code.


My main problem is the same as @Freso already mentioned: people keep adding duplicates when they don’t know about this unwritten rule. For editors knowing that “only bolded numbers matter” it’s not a problem to have a full code. They perfectly understand the meaning of it. But for random visitors seeing the short version is just confusing. It also makes automatic electronic matching harder because most of the libraries don’t know about our special rules.

It makes little sense to have a guideline related to this but also current situation is kind of stupid. These edits are auto-edits and now people keep correcting my edits while I keep correcting theirs. This kind of unwritten rules are the main reason why my sister and some of my friends have stopped editing on MB. Especially my sister got frustrated when more experienced editors explained how the editing should be done. Majority of comments were not based on written guidelines but how people themselves prefer to do it.


Why on earth would edits to catalog numbers be auto-edits? That makes no sense.


It makes no sense to me either but that’s the current situation.


Because they’re “easy” to revert. (No MBID needs to be manually reinstated, any information about the cat. no. past and present can be found in edit history, so anyone can look up old data and revert to a previous state.)


The 7-digit seems closer to a catalog number than the ICPN to me.
What about cases where the label’s site uses a “long” number, like DG, but the artwork show a shorter number ?
I think the physical release should remain the main source, but maybe there are reasons to do otherwise ?

For example /

See a related edit, I’d like it if more people said if it should be reverted or not:


Editors still commonly use Decca and Deutsche Grammophon websites as a source for data even though it doesn’t often match with releases. Releases in US, JP, RU and AU are often having codes in totally different format (code isn’t sometimes based on UPC). Older releases never have numbers in long format even though website lists long numbers.

Some examples:

La Bohème (DE version) / Decca Classics website
Violin Favourites (US version) / Decca Classics website
Bach Adagios (RU version) / Decca Classics website


Maybe we really just need a good way to put multiple catalog numbers on. Then we can have both the short and long one, and either search should find it.

(I guess we could currently put multiple copies of the label to get multiple catalog numbers, seems rather ugly though)


@derobert, there is a ticket requesting for a primary flag to some release catalogue numbers (MBS-7172) and I have just added a new ticket for a primary flag to some release labels (MBS-9177).

cc: @yindesu and @221bbs who got the good primary idea.