SPCN codes


SPCN (Special Product Code Number) codes were proprietary 10-digit product identification codes, or stock control numbers, printed on a wide range of items sold in Christian book and music stores. Word, a major label and distributor in the industry, used SPCNs from 1983 to 1997 as catalog numbers for all releases that they distributed. SPCNs were also included on Christian Music Trade Association releases until the assignment of those codes was discontinued on November 1, 2000. At that time, all product identification transitioned to the more universal UPC barcode standard. (More information on the SPCN–UPC transition is available at the CMTA web site). During the transition, SPCN codes were printed near the barcodes.


  • SPCN codes are almost always prefixed with “SPCN”. The “SPCN” may be followed by a space, a number sign/octothorp (“#”), colon (“:”), or possibly other characters.
  • They appear in this form: SPCN DDD RRRR XYZ, with or without spaces and/or hyphens.
  • DDD is a 3-digit number indicating the distributor.
  • RRRR is a 4-digit “record number”, defined by the label, and appears to be something like a “base catalog number” across all the formats of a particular release.
  • XY is a 2-digit number indicating the format, and each label appears to have its own pattern.
  • Z, the last digit, can be any numerical digit (0 to 9) or “X”, which stands for “10”. The Z digit may appear to be random, but there is a mathematical pattern between the LP, cassette, and CD of the same release.
  • SPCNs are sometimes printed with spaces or hyphens in various positions, or sometimes as unbroken strings of digits.


SPCN found on Mortal (2) - Mortal

SPCN found on Joy Electric - Robot Rock

SPCN found on Scott Blackwell - In The Beginning, along with a DADAXX CMTA genre code

SPCNs, partially decoded

Some elements of SPCNs have been decoded:


A DDD (distribution) code of “701” means the release was distributed by Word.


The RRRR (record number) code supposedly applies only to one title (album/single/etc.) as it appears on various formats (LP/CS/CD/etc.). In reality, labels reused record numbers across several different releases, by different artists, and across several sub-labels. For example, as of this writing, there are 43 different releases (non-duplicated) that have SPCN codes of “751 2612 ###” in the database, representing 26 different master releases.


Some patterns are evident from examining submissions in the database, though exceptions do exist.

Label LP Cassette CD VHS Cassette Single Performance Track Cassette Promo 12"/CD
Colours 82 84 83, 84
Dayspring 01 57 62 69
Fingerprint 61
Good News Records 10 50 69
Grrr Records 10 50 69
Maranatha! Music (very inconsistent) 82 84 67
Ministry Resource Center 72 74
Myrrh 06 38 61 69 15
Ocean Records 10 50 69
Pakaderm Records 25 26
Rejoice Records 28 29 65
Reunion Records 12 52 72
Star Song Records 86 88 87
What? Records 06 38 61
Wonderland 63 65 29
Word 10 50 60 20
Word Maranatha 82, 50 84


For the Z digit, the cassette code plus 1 equals the LP code. The LP code plus 4 equals the CD code. In reality, however, this is not always the case.

Impact on Discogs.com

If an SPCN code is being used as a catalog number, please enter it in the catalog number field, complete with the “SPCN” prefix. When submitting a release containing both a conventional catalog number plus an SPCN code, please enter the catalog number in the usual catalog number field, and the SPCN in the “Barcodes and Other Identifiers” section of the form as an “Other”, with the description as “SPCN”. Enter all hyphens and spaces verbatim, and remember that “X” is frequently the final digit.

It could be argued that a distribution code of “701” could be used as the sole basis for a “Distributed By” company credit, but an explicit reference on the release would still be more concrete.


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