Sound carrier catalog

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The recorded music catalog (also: recordings directory ) is in the music industry , a numerical index of a record label or a total directory that lists all published phonogram lists for a specific order feature. When it comes to records, one also speaks of “ discography ”.


Sound carrier manufacturers (colloquially record company or CD manufacturer ) publish their musical works around the world, mostly on their own music labels, in a numerical order that is based on the chronological release date . The reasons for this are the creation of unequivocal ordering options by retailers and buyers, the flawless archiving of all published music titles and a more precise discographic recording. Official hit parades such as those from the specialist magazine Billboard also refer to the catalog numbers of the hits.

A distinction is made between the catalog created by music labels for archiving or discographic purposes and the pure collector's or price catalog that is compiled outside of the music industry . The latter category includes Goldmine's catalog , which is an alphabetical listing for vinyl record collectors, divided into “Record Album Price Guide” and “Price Guide to 45 RPM Records”. In addition to the discographic information, it also contains price proposals and playback quality and is part of the price catalogs.


A newly founded music label is initially assigned a label code by the national IFPI ( International Federation of the Phonographic Industry ) , which is the basis for cataloging. The first and further releases of this music label are then carried out by consecutively numbering all of the released media. In this way, singles and LPs can not only be differentiated from one another by music title and artist , but also sorted according to their catalog number . LPs each receive a uniform catalog number under which all the music titles on the LP are listed. A catalog differentiation between singles and LPs using different number ranges is common.

The procedure is to be illustrated using the example of the US label Monument Records . This independent label was founded in March 1958 and released its first single in October 1958 under catalog number 45-400 ( Gotta Travel on by Billy Grammer). While the single is identified with the signature “45”, the catalog does not begin with “1”, but with the - arbitrarily chosen - number “400”. The second single in the catalog was The Shag (Is Totally Cool) by Billy Graves (catalog: Monument Records 45-401), only released in December 1958. As a rule, the numerical order also corresponds to the chronological order, which later improves the work of collectors and Discographers is facilitated. The chronology of the recording dates in the recording studio does not have to match the order in the catalog. It can be the case that earlier recorded music titles are initially withheld and later recorded music titles are published earlier in the catalog.

The numerical order can be disturbed by various circumstances. For example, re-issues (see remake ) lead to a sound carrier appearing again under the same catalog number with which it was previously published, even if the current numbering is already advanced. If a music label is taken over by another, this often leads to a re-numbering of the catalog concerned.


In addition to these label-related catalogs, there are also nationally organized general catalogs worldwide. In Germany around 10,000 sound carriers with around 60,000 music titles appear annually, so that interested parties can systematically search and get an overview. Therefore, the Federal Association of the Phonographic Industry e. V. (today Federal Association of the Music Industry ) since 1964 all music titles published in Germany in the "Great German Record Catalog", which has been called "Community Catalog" since 1972. However, it is not accumulated, but primarily serves as a sales aid for retailers. Systematic documentation of German music production has existed since 1970, whereby the work of the "Deutsche Musikphonothek" founded in 1961 can be continued. The "German Bibliography - Music Sound Carrier Directory" has been published here every month since 1974.

The “Bielefelder Katalog” (now also available online) , which has been published since 1952, pursues the same goal with its editions for “classical” and “jazz”. It does, however, represent a cumulative listing of all previously published musical works, with a detailed list including the cast .

Large audio libraries , such as the German Broadcasting Archive (DRA), also publish sound carrier catalogs.


The American music label Columbia Records published a directory of commercial sound recordings as early as 1891. Archiving institutions in Austria are the “Phonogram Archive of the Academy of Sciences” (founded in 1899), the Italian “Discoteca di Stato” (1928), the French “Phonotèque Nationale” (1938), the “ British Institute of Recorded Sound ” (1955) and the world's largest " Library of Congress " (1927) in the USA.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. because of 45 revolutions per minute , the earlier playback speed of singles
  2. Marianne Buder / Werner Rehfeld / Thomas Seeger / Dietmar Strauch (eds.), Basics of practical documentation and information , 1996, p. 506