How to Get a UPC Code for Music Releases

A UPC or “Universal Product Code” refers to a unique code which tracks the sales of an item. Sometimes referred to as a bar code, virtually everything you can purchase features a UPC code. When you release an album of music, it requires a UPC code to track the sales whether it’s a physical release like a CD or vinyl or a digital release. Thankfully it’s simple enough to attain for your release, so let’s talk how to get a UPC code for music.

How to Get a UPC Code for Music

Getting a UPC code for music releases can be done a few different ways.

How to Get a UPC Code for Music

Note that UPC is largely a North American name for the bar code. In some parts of the world like Europe it’s referred to as an EAN which refers to “European Article Number”, now known as an International Article Number with the same acronym.

In the world of music releases, sometimes this number is instead referred to as an MCN, or “Media Catalog Number”. When I’m inputting the UPC as part of the meta data for a CD master at, my software refers to it as an MCN.

mcn mastering

Again, whether you’re releasing your music digitally or via CD, vinyl, or both/all, you’ll still need a UPC/EAN/MCN. Thankfully they’re easy to get these days, particularly because most artists will fall into this first category.


As I mentioned in my overview on how to get ISRC codes, music distributors like DistroKid or Ditto Music which you upload your music to and they distribute your release to the dozens of music streaming services and stores will provide you with ISRC codes if you don’t provide them yourself.

The same is true in providing you a UPC code for your music. Once you upload your tracks and other information regarding your release on Distrokid, for example, you’ll see the UPC code they generated for you:

You can provide this code to whomever is creating your CD, vinyl, cassette, etc. release as it all relates to the same album.

Like the ISRC codes, this is provided to you at no extra charge with most distributors.


Similar to how you can purchase ISRC codes (yes, I know it’s redundant to say ISRC codes or UPC codes, but let’s roll with it) from, you can purchase a single or multiple UPC codes from GS1US, the board behind UPCs dating back to the early 70’s.

I should mention whereas you can get a lifetime of ISRC codes from the US ISRC agency, it’s $30 PER UPC code so it can get expensive depending on how many releases you have if you go this route.

Record Label

Like I mentioned and acknowledged with ISRC codes, you can obviously get your UPC code from your record label, though admittedly this won’t apply to most anyone reading this.

They typically have in place deals with distributors so that this is all handled on your behalf, but it’s worth mentioning that it’s obviously how more established artists get their UPC codes.

Regardless of how you get your UPC code, make sure you have one and that it’s accurate whenever you need to supply it as it’s essential for tracking sales of your music and ensuring that you get all of the royalties which you’re owed!

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