How to Look Up Record Albums by Numbers

Things You'll Need

  • Vinyl record
  • Computer with Internet access

Vinyl records have stood the test of time by outlasting the analog and digital formats like reel to reel, cassette tapes and compact discs. There are now scores of obsessive record collectors who make vinyl record collecting their life's work. Now with search tools that have been implemented through the World Wide Web, there are many easy ways to shop for records without leaving your living room. You can find almost any record album by merely searching the record label's catalog number printed on the spine of the record sleeve.

Locate the catalog number that is printed on the spine of the record sleeve. This is usually a letter/number combination that combines letters in the record label's name with the number of the release. For instance, Nirvana's "Bleach" album was released by the Sub Pop record label in 1989 with the catalog number, SP34b. However, many record labels in the '50s through the '70s did not use the letter/number format, primarily using digits in their own cataloging system instead.

Log onto the Internet and go to and in the upper right hand corner search box, type in the exact catalog number that appears on the spine of your record sleeve. Hit the search button and wait for the search engine to find a match for your catalog number.

Buy the current edition of Goldmine's Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums then look for the record you just looked up on to see if the catalog number matches the number listed in Goldmine's Price Guide. This serves as a method to double check your Internet search. has proved to be a reliable source but it just like many community generated databases, it will never be 100 percent flawless.


  • Record label and official band or musician websites serve as great resources for verifying a catalog number and will usually have their official releases posted on their "Discography" or "Releases" pages.


  • Do not rely on one source to verify a catalog number. It is generally a good practice to find at least two or three reliable sources for verification.


About the Author

Ezekiel James began as a music writer in 2003. Since then, James has served as a writer for several music, technology and design publications. His work has been published on eHow, and in print for the "The Potrero View" and "Punk Planet." James is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Portland State University.