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Another code used in the release of most albums is the UPC code. The UPC stands for Universal Product Code, which is the number represented by the barcode on the back of the packaging for just about any item you buy in a store these days. While an ISRC refers to a single track, the UPC code is for the entire album. Each unique physical product that is put on a store shelf has this unique code. In addition to the barcode that you find in the back of the CD package, you can actually encode this into the PQ information on a CD.
If you have any intention of selling your CD at retail and having it recorded by SoundScan for inclusion on the Billboard charts, you need a UPC. Most retailers only stock product with barcodes so they can easily keep track of them in their inventory, and SoundScan doesn't know you exist until you have a barcode. UPCs are administrated by the UCC or Uniform Code Council. If you want to obtain a manufacturer's number so you can issue your own barcodes, it will cost $750 for the registration fee, but you can get a single UPC from CD Baby for $20 if you're already a member, or from Nationwide Barcode at around $10.
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