Much of this glossary comes from the Nirvana discography glossary.

7" / 10" / 12":   The diameter of vinyl records. 7" items are usually singles that play at 45 rpm, 10" items could be a single or an EP, and 12" items could be a single (45 rpm) or an album (33 1/3 rpm).

Acetate  In sound recording an acetate disc is a reference audio disc used during production of a gramophone record (e.g. an LP record). The acetate disc is created as one of the initial stages of record production and used to determine how a given recording will transfer to disc. Listening to the disc provides a reference and allows various changes can be made to the recording, such as changing overall volume or adjusting bass and treble, to ensure it will transfer to record as well as possible before the master disc, from which the actual records will be reproduced, is created.

An acetate disc is actually usually an aluminium disc coated with nitrocellulose lacquer, most don't contain any acetate at all. The soft lacquer degrades with very few plays: in other words, acetates wear out almost immediately.

Aftermarket:   For the purposes of the discography, this term describes any item that contains material being resold in a secondary fashion, usually by a company not normally associated with Nirvana. The best examples are box sets; most of the time the CDs are regular copies of albums or singles that are easy to find, but have been repackaged with miscellaneous trinkets (e.g., a book, poster, postcard, shirt, or button). Even though some of a box's contents may be official, the box itself is not.

AMCOS:   The collection society of Australia and New Zeeland to collect royalties.

b/w:   "Bundled with" or "backed with." It's a reference to the b-sides on singles (e.g. "Overkill" b/w "Too Late Too Late").

BIEM:   BIEM is an important Paris-based organisation, which was set up to oversee reciprocal arrangements for the collection of music publishing mechanical royalties across international territories. Hence, most CDs now carry the small stamp, BIEM, on the actual disk itself.

Blister pack:   A Blister Pack is s stiff plastic moulding surrounding the case of a CD. The term is borrowed from the marketers who originally made the packaging. Blister Packs were mainly used on 3" CDs so that they could be hung on shop displays. 3" CDs with the original Blister Packs have a slightly higher values than those without; however there is no accurate record as to which releases had this packaging and which did not.

Bootleg:   these are the unauthorised recordings of live or broadcast performances. They are duplicated and sold - often at a premium price - without the permission of the artist, composer or record company.

Box Set:   A set of items that are packaged together.

Catalogue number:  Catalogue number (sound recording). Also known as order number or issue number. 1. The number(s), letter(s), and/or other symbols assigned to a publication by the publisher to establish a unique control of a particular publication. 2. The number, usually different from the matrix- or master-number(s), assigned by the publisher under which an item appears listed in catalogues, leaflets, and other publicity material issued by the company owning the rights to the recording. Usually common to all parts of the published item, appearing generally on each part of a multipart package as well as on the container for the multiple parts. This number may change when, or if, one or more of the parts are re-published again at a later date. Recordings have from time to time been published with the same catalogue number, both inadvertently and deliberately. Dubbings are sometimes assigned the original catalogue number, but frequently with a variant prefix or suffix

CMRRA:   The collection society of Canada to collect royalties.

COMPAC PLUS:   A CD package similar to an ECO PAK.

Counterfeit:   Counterfeits are copied and packaged to resemble the original as closely as possible. The original producer's trademarks and logos are reproduced in order to mislead the consumer into believing that they are buying an original product. Very rare and famous collectables like Sex Pistols God Save The Queen on A&M are prone to be copied by people who will try to make some money. There are some pressings made in Russia of Motorhead CD releases that could be called counterfeits, see for example Inferno or Kiss of Death.

Cut out   The short answer: items are "cut out" (physically damaged in some way) to prevent record shops from returning them to the labels for credit. Itmes are marked as cutouts by slicing a notch or drilling a hole in a corner of the sleeve or jewel box.
The term "cutouts" generically refers to discontinued or overstock items that were marked as cutouts by the record label, then sold in bulk to a cutout distributor. The cutout distributor then sells them (usually in "grab bag" form -- pay a flat price per unit, you don't get to choose what you get) to record stores, who sell them on the cheap. Artists don't get royalties on these sales, which is part of why they can be let go for so little.

To confuse things slightly, some labels will mark promo releases in the same way they mark cutouts -- by notching or drilling the case -- instead of using a "For Promotional Release Only" stamp or sticker. If you run across a "cutout" of something that's been released in the last couple of months, it's really a promo. Some promo CDs have a hole punched (not drilled) in the UPC code on the tray insert, but leave the jewel case intact. In general, ragged drill holes or slices mark cutouts, and "clean" punch holes, clipped corners, etc. mark promos.

Cut-out bins have become less common since the late 90s. The few discount stores that continue to stock cheap CDs now carry non-cut-out but cheaply-put-together discount titles mixed in with the few remaining cut-out titles. This is said to be a result of SoundScan, which provides accurate point-of-sale statistics to record labels that they did not have in the past. This has enabled the labels to cut back on over-production of CDs and in turn, the number of cut-out CDs.

Die-cut:   A hole cut into the front of sleeves (forming a sort of "window") that allows the item to be partially seen.

Digipak:   A thick paper (almost cardboard-like) CD package. The paper is a folded one-piece section. The CD rests in a normal plastic tray, like those in jewel cases. The tray is glued to the paper.

ECO PAK FLP:   Similar to a digipak, but features a small, plastic flap that closes the packaging. When opened, the front cover folds out.

EP:   Extended Play.

Flexi:   An extremely thin piece of vinyl that is usually square.

Gatefold:   A sleeve folded in the middle that opens like a book. Most of the time such a sleeve holds two records or CDs.

GEMA:   GEMA is the German "Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte" or society for musical performing and mechanical reproduction rights. As a state-recognised trustee organisation, GEMA administer the exploitation rights of creators of music. GEMA is a collecting society. It has the legal status of a commercial association and is subject to supervision and control by the German Patent Office, the German Federal Cartel Office, the Berlin Senate of Justice and the General Meeting of GEMA.

In daily practice, GEMA have two main functions: Firstly, GEMA helps you to easily obtain all rights entailed in the use of music. Secondly, GEMA pass on your royalty payments to the composers, lyricists and music publishers. For more information click here.

IFPI:   International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.

ISBN:   International Standard Book Number.

JASRAC:   The collection society of Japan to collect royalties.

Jewel Case:   A plastic container for compact discs measuring 5" x 5" x .5". A standard CD case.

lc/Label Code:   The Label Code (LC) was introduced in 1977 by the IFPI (International Federation of Phonogram and Videogram Industries) in order to unmistakably identify the different record labels (see Introduction, Record labels) for rights purposes. The Label Code consists historically of 4 figures, presently being extended to 5 figures, preceded by LC and a dash (e.g. LC-0193 = Electrola; LC-0233 = His Master’s Voice). Note that the number of countries using the LC is limited, and that the code given on the item is not always accurate.

Long-box:   An oversized cardboard package that CDs used to be sold in, a form of exterior cardboard packaging for CD's in widespread use in North America in the 1980s and early 1990s. When compact discs first began to appear in the retail stores, the longbox packaging served a transitional purpose, allowing shops to file new compact discs in the same bins originally used for vinyl records. Longboxes were 12 inches tall by almost 6 inches wide, and capable of containing two separate discs when necessary. Most longboxes were full color, with details about the compact disc on the back, and artwork that was frequently taken from the original square album cover art, reworked for the new shape and size.

LP:   Long play.

Made in:   With this I simply refer to the country where the releases were manufactured.

Matrix:   An engraving or stamped code. For vinyl items, this describes the code etched into the run-out grooves on each side of the record. For CDs, the code can be found on the metallic ring in the center of the disc. (Many CDs may also have an IFPI code printed on the inner plastic ring). The number is assigned by the record company at the time of recording, or sometimes in advance. Generally it is a rough guide to the dating of the recording, and sometimes indicates which take or performance of several done in one session the recording actually represents. The matrix number may, also, indicate, usually in the prefix or suffix positions, additional data such as method of recording (i.e. electrical or acoustical), dubbing, recording engineer, place and original manufacturer. When dealing with records reissued under new issue numbers the matrix number is the chief means of verifying whether the reissue is the same take or performance as an earlier issue.

MCPS:   Mechanical Copyright Protection Society. The collection society of UK to collect royalties. The MCPS collects and distributes 'mechanical' royalties generated from the recording of music onto many different formats. This income is distributed to their members - writers and publishers of music.

Misspressings:   A mispressing is when a record or CD is pressed with different music to what is stated on the label. Mispressings are actually quite common, particularly on CD. If the labels are simply stuck on the wrong sides of a record it is not strictly a misspressing. I.e. the labels should denote a different release to the music that is actually on the record. Many people believe that mispressings are valuable, this is not really the case. Some vinyl records by famous artists sell for extra if mispressed but with CDs there is almost no added value.

N/A:   Not applicable.

NCB:   Nordic Copyright Bureau. The collection society of Scandinavia to collect royalties. NCB is a Nordic-Baltic society that in co-operation with copyright societies abroad administers the copyrights in the recording and production of music on cd, dvd, film, video, the Internet etc on behalf of composers, lyricists and music publishers. Records with the NCB-logo can be pressed in Sweden/Norway/Finland/Denmark. (It is very seldom that it reads "Made in Sweden") On most of the pressing you can find out were it´s pressed to check back of the sleeve and find out were the sleeve are printed. Also you sometime can find out to check matrix number, if the matrix Nr ends with 710 it is an Norwegian press. There are also pressing that reads "Made in Holland or Germany" but has NCB on label and these are pressed in that country but made for the Scandinavian Market (Export Pressings).

NOC/No Original Centre:   In the 50s and 60s 7" singles in the UK and many other countries came with push out centres. If the push out centre has been removed the record is referred to as having no original centre. Collectors prefer singles that still have the original centre, so items sold with the centre missing fetch lower prices. The abbreviation NOC is widely used, remember it as it may expalin why a record seems cheap!

Obi Strip:   A piece of paper that typically comes with Asian releases. (I think it's simply to inform Japanese consumers what the item is, in case they can't read English text.) The paper's size will vary from item to item; some obi strips are folded and cover the edge of a CD case plus a small portion of the cases' front and back, others will wrap around the entire front and back of a jewel case. OBI is actually an abbreviation, meaning Original Band Intact; the "Original Band" is the paper sash wrapped around most Japanese LPs. In a strange twist the abbreviation has become the verb and the original band is now referred to as an Obi, whether it is intact or not! The Obi usually carries information in English and Japanese. Obis are easily damaged so an LP where the Obi is intact will sell for a premium.

Origin:    With this I refer to the country where the record was manufactured and distributed. The problem begins when several countries are involved. For example, for the CD issues in the Castle Classics series I have stated that UK is the country of origin, but they were actually made in France. But the initiative and decision to release was made by the UK based label Castle Communications. They are responsible for the release, it just happened to be a manufacturer in France who got the deal to manufacture the CD´s.

Picture CD:   Initially it was only possible to print plain text onto the actual disc of CDs. In the late 80s CDs were developed with full colour pictures on the printed side and these were called "picture CDs". As with any new innovation Picture CDs were at first a novelty and were often released as special editions in clear fronted boxes. As the use of pictures on CDs became more common the term fell into disuse.

Piracy / Pirate:   Pirate is the unauthorised duplication of an original recording for commercial gain without the consent of the rights owner. The packaging of pirate copies is different from the original. Pirate copies are often compilations, such as the 'greatest hits' of a specific artist, or a collection of a specific genre, such as dance tracks.

Push Out Centre:   In the US 7 Inch Singles have large centre holes, in most of the rest of the world the centre hole is small. In order to make singles compatible with US made jukeboxes most labels provided centres that could be removed to make the hole larger for jukebox use. Such removable centres are called Push Out. All early UK singles had push out centres, however in the 70s they were gradually phased out as jukeboxes became available that could accommodate singles with small holes.

RCB  Record Company Bag. Most common for 7" singles that did not get a picture sleeve.

Re-issue, Re-release:   These terms are interchangeable, but commonly abused. They describe any item that has been officially put back into circulation. For example, GWR re-released Overkill, Bomber and Ace Of Spades in 1986 after they had signed Motorhead and released Orgasmatron. The problem arises from sellers that use these words to falsely describe unofficial releases in an attempt to either fool consumers or avoid the detection of sites like eBay that have rules about not selling unofficial material.

I use the term re-issue when a record is printed with some kind of variation compared to the first issue. For example, when Polydor took over Bronze from EMI, they changed some details on the label and on the back cover of Overkill, Bomber and Ace Of Spades. When GWR re-issued these albums I call this the second re-issue. However when Victor released Overkill in Japan 1981 I don´t call this a re-issue because this was the first time the album was issued in Japan.

Released in:  Here I list the countries where the record got distribution. LP´s were expensive to export to other countries so they were often also manufactured in every country were they got distribution. But CD´s are easier and cheaper to transport so they don´t need to be locally produced. It is enough to have them manufactured in one place in Europe, one in North America, one in South America etc.

Re-pressing:   A re-pressing is a new run of a record or CD that has never been deleted. A re-pressing will normally have the same catalogue number as the original release; the matrix number is more likely to differ. It is not unusual for dedicated collectors to want to own both the original and all the re-pressings of a release.

RIAA:  Recording Industry Association of America.

RPM:   Revolutions per minute. The speed at which records should be played.

SACEM:   The collection society of France to collect royalties.

SABAM:   The Belgian federation La Société Belge des Auteur, Compositeur & Editeurs is designed to collect, distribute, administer and authorship rights in Belgium and in countries with reciprocity agreements.

SHM-CD: (Super High Material CD Plays on any CD Player) developed by JVC and Universal Music Japan.

Slimline Case:   A plastic container for compact discs measuring 5" x 5" x .25". Because the CD snaps onto the inside of the back of the case, there is no back insert (inlay).

Snappack:   A folded sleeve. See Come As You Are. (This may also be spelled "snappak.")

STEMRA:   The collection society of Netherlands to collect royalties.

Stock copy:   This is the word that tells you there is nothing special about this item! The stock copy, or standard release, is that which anyone could buy in the high street record shops.

White Label Promo:   A promotional record that either has blank white labels or white labels with minimal text (artist's name, song titles, etc.).

Contact   |   Back to main page