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Glossary of Music Terms

Find yourself a bit puzzled by some of the language you've found in our music listings? Here are some of the terms, abbreviations and vocabulary that are commonly used by music sellers to describe the items they have for sale.

Other Glossaries

Books Glossary | Movies Glossary



Numerical Terms

33 - Vinyl record that plays at 33 rotations per minute (rpm). The actual rotational speed is 33-1/3 RPM.

45 - Vinyl record that play at 45 rotations per minute (rpm).

10" - Vinyl record that is 10" in diameter (may be either 45 RPM or 33 RPM).

12" - Vinyl record 12" in diameter (may be either 45 RPM or 33 RPM).

2 lp - An album that includes two long playing (10 or 12 inch) vinyl records.

3 lp - An album that includes three long playing (10 or 12 inch) vinyl records.

7" - Vinyl record that is 7" in diameter -- the standard for a 45 rpm single.

8-track - A recording playback format that enjoyed a brief period of popularity in the 1970s.


acetates - Also known as masters or reference discs, acetates are aluminum discs covered in cellulose acetate, onto which the track or tracks are then "cut" by a lathe. Usually only a handful are made and they do not stand up to repeated plays.

album - A term for records or CDs that contain a collection of songs.


bb or BB - A small hole in an album cover -- usually denotes a promotional copy.

bc - Back cover.

bootleg - An illicit recording, made without the knowledge or permission of an artist or recording company.


cassette - A plastic shell casing containing 1/8" analog audio tape.

catalog numbers - Almost every commercial release has a unique catalog number. Promotional items very often have different catalog numbers than the commercial release.

cav - Constant angular velocity. Standard format play for laserdiscs.

cc or cut corner - A cut corner on the cover of a record. Usually denotes a cut-out or promotional record. Also sometimes called coh or bb.

CD or compact disc - An impact resistant, transparent, plastic disc with a vaporized aluminum surface that plays back music with the help of a digitally guided laser beam.

CD single - A CD containing only one or two tracks.

CD3 or 3"CD - Three-inch compact discs, mostly produced in Japan (also called snap-packs). Not to be confused with the Minidisc. Many early CD singles were made in this format. CD3s play on most CD players without the need for a plastic adaptor.

CD5 or 5"CD - Five-inch compact discs, usually CD singles.

CD-R or CD acetates - Recordable CDs, usually gold or silver in colour. These differ from regular CD discs as the audio information on them is "burned" on in real time rather than "pressed". This makes them suitable for short production runs, where anything from a single copy to several hundred copies are required.

CD-V or CD-Video - A nearly obsolete but very collectable format, popular for a brief time during the 1980s. CD-Videos were produced on 5", 8" or 12" size discs and can be played on some laserdisc players. 5" CD-Video discs have the advantage of containing audio tracks which can be played on a regular CD player. Please note - these do NOT play on DVD players!

Co - Cutout hole on cover.

coh - A hole punched, cut, clipped or drilled in an record or CD cover by the record company to prevent it being sold as full price product. Usually denotes a deleted or promotional item. Also bb.

collection - A CD or record that is comprised of selections by more than one artist or from more than one previously released album.

colored vinyl - Signifies any color in the spectrum other than black. Can be a single color, or a mixture of colors, e.g. "splattered", "marbled" etc. Occasionally vinyl which at first appears to be black may be pressed on translucent brown or red vinyl, which is noticable when held to a strong light.

clv - Constant linear velocity. Extended play format for laserdiscs.

counter display - A self-standing display card, usually placed on or around the checkout counter in a record store.

cover - The face of the external record packaging -- sometimes distinguished as front cover or back cover.

custom sleeve - A picture or title sleeve that is unique to the promotional pressing and is not used for the commercial release.

cut out - An item that has been "cut-out" of the manufacturer's catalogue and marked in some manner to be sold at a discount.

cw - Corner wear.


dat - Digital audio tape. About half the size of a conventional cassette. A few titles were made commercially available on this format in the 1980s. No longer considered a domestic format, it is still used widely within the music industry for recording and mastering purposes.

dcc - Digital compact cassette. Slightly smaller than a conventional cassette. An early competitor to minidisc that did not really gain popularity.

deleted - An item is termed deleted when it is no longer available direct from the record company.

die-cut - A sleeve with a custom cut area or hole, usually intended to reveal a picture disc, coloured vinyl disc or the label, without having to remove it from the sleeve.

digipak - A folding cardboard CD sleeve into which is glued a plastic tray that holds the disc.

digitrack - Essentially identical to the digipak, except that it is sold in the open position stiffened by two plastic rails with a few extra cardboard panels for added graphics.

display card/display flat - Picture, title or color display on card for promoting an artist or single. Usually the type of thing you would see stapled to the wall of your local record store.

dj copy (or dj designate) - Promotional copy of an LP (and sometimes CD) that designated as such on the cover.

dnap - Does not affect play.

double pack  - A set of two CD or vinyl discs. The term is usually associated with promotional double 12" releases issued for DJ purposes, double 7" single sets or two-part CD singles.

DVD-Audio or DVDA - an audio disc format with higher fidelity than a standard CD.  DVD-Audio discs can only be played in DVD-Audio players or certain DVD players and cannot be played in a standard CD player.


ep - Extended Play or Extended Play Record. Usually a CD single or a 7" record in either a 45 RPM or 33 RPM speed.

ew - Edge wear.


fc - Front cover.


gatefold - A sleeve folded down the center to create a double pocket. Often abbreviated to gf.

gatefold sleeve - These are record jackets which open like a book.

gf - Gatefold cover.

gold stamped - Regular or promotional sleeve to which an embossed gold "stamp" has been applied stating that it is a promotional or advance copy. Does not necessarily mean the actual disc will be a promotional copy.


imp - Import.

inner or inner sleeve - The inner, protective paper or plastic sleeve or liner of a record.

insert - Extra inserts into the record jacket, such as a poster or pictures.

is - Inner sleeve.


jacket - The external record packaging.

jewel case or box - The transparent outer plastic case of a compact disc. Sometimes manufactured from translucent coloured plastic or custom etched.


label - The name of the recording company that releases a record or CD.

limited edition - Limited pressing or issue where a strict number of units has been manufactured & distributed, usually with no likelihood of a repressing once sold out. Differs from a regular issue, which is intended to be available for a longer period and may be repressed to meet demand. May sometimes be individually numbered.

long box - A packaging format for compact discs, designed to place CD cover art above shelving apparatus in music stores.

lp - An abbreviation for 12" long play or long playing record. A record album.

ls - Lightly scratched.


matrix number - The number or numbers in the run-off groove of a record or around the center ring on the playing side of a compact disc. Identifies a particular pressing from other pressings of the same item.

maxi-single - European term for an extended play 12" or CD single.

minidisc - An increasingly popular digital format housed inside a 5cm x 5cm cartridge. Not to be confused with the 3" CD.

minimax cd - A 5" CD with a 3" playing area in the center and clear plastic surround.

mint - Item in perfect condition.  Vinyl or CD that has never been played.  Cover jacket, sleeves for vinyl and booklets/inserts are all as new.  No fingerprints or signs of handling.

mono - Monaural recording.


nap - Not affecting play.

no'd - Numbered - usually referring to the packaging of limited editions.


ost - Original sound track. A recording of the original soundtrack to a film, play, show or TV show. Also see soundtrack (ST).

obi-strip - The outer paper band around Japanese vinyl releases or the strip affixed to Japanese CDs. These give Japanese language information concerning the item and are usually decorative and highly attractive. Obi-strips are very rare on Japanese items dating from before the late 1960s.

oc - Original cast. Original recording of Broadway or similar play. Also see studio cast.

ois - Original inner sleeve.


p/s - Picture sleeve or picture cover. A sleeve for a 45 RPM single that has a picture.

pc - Picture cover. The cover of a CD or 12" single that has a picture.

pi - Picture insert. An insert in a CD single that has a picture. Usually placed in front or behind a disc and housed in a plastic sleeve or case. Picture discs sometime come with a printed backing card. Most Japanese 7" singles have a picture insert rather than a printed pocket sleeve.

plug-side - The side of a record that the recording company has chosen to be featured by radio station air-play.

poster sleeve - Vinyl record that comes in a picture sleeve which when unfolded can be used as a poster.

press kit - As below but with the addition of a CD, cassette or vinyl format.

press pack - A combination of printed or photocopied literature (possibly on Record Company headed paper) usually accompanied by a promotional photograph. Sent out to the media, newspapers, magazines, etc, containing new release information and/or biography material about an artist. Most do not contain any music.

press release - A single sheet announcement sent out with advance or promotional copies of a release and containing additional information for journalists or urging DJs to feature the item on their playlist.

promo - An item that is marked in some way and intended for free distribution to promote the sale of stock copies of an item. Recordings put out by labels to promote product, may be marked by a cut in the record jacket or a hole punched in either jewel case (CDs) or record sleeve (LPs).

proof artwork - A test run of a sleeve or other piece of packaging. Probably will not have any promotional markings but will be noticeably different to the finished commercial item as they usually retain the printers color keys and are generally not cut or folded as the finished item would be.

ps - Picture sleeve.


q or quad - Quadrophonic recording. A recording with 4 discrete channels of sound.


re or re-issue - Re-releases of previously released product. May have new tracks, new liner notes or packaging. Not the original release or pressing.

record - refers to music recordings, usually on grooved vinyl discs.

rpm - Revolutions per minute. A measure of the (rotational) speed of a vinyl record.

rsol - Rubber stamp on label.

rspc - Rubber stamp on cover.

rw - Ring wear. Wear on the cover of a record from the center ring around the label or from the outer edge of the record.


s or stereo - A stereophonic recording (with two discrete channels of sound).

SACD - an audio CD format with higher fidelity than a standard CD. Most, but not all, SACDs are hybrids that can play in a SACD player as well as a standard CD player.

st or s/t - Self-titled. A recording that has the same name as the artist.

sampler - A recording or book that is composed of selections by more than one artist or author. Often intended to be given away free as a promotional item.

ss - Sealed/still sealed. Item that has never been opened, still sealed in original shrink-wrap packaging, with no damage of any type unless otherwise noted. 

shaped picture disc or cd  - A disc which is custom cut to a special shape. Vinyl discs are cut with a 7" or 10" playing area. Usually a collectable limited edition pressing.

shrink wrap - The outer, heat-shrunk or sealed plastic cover of any item offered for sale. For records, the brittle, transparent plastic wrapping around the jacket.

single - A record or compact disc that contains more than one song but not a complete LP or album. In records, either a 45 RPM or a 33 RPM, in either a 7" or a 12" format. In compact discs, either a 3-inch (CD3) or a 5-inch (CD5) format.

sl - Slight.

sleeve - The paper (or sometimes plastic) sleeve that protects a vinyl record of any size from the outer album cover. The inner packaging for records.

slw - Slight warp.

sm - Saw mark. A notch cut into an album cover or CD jewel case that indicates item is intended for promotional purposes.

sm pl or seam split - A split on the seam or edge of the record cover or sleeve.

snap-pack - Unique form of packaging for Japanese 3" CD singles. A 6" x 3" card sleeve folded over a plastic frame which holds the CD. The frame can be "snapped" down to 3" x 3" size and the sleeve folded around it.

soc - Sticker(s) on cover. (Also: sobc; stickers on back cover.)

sol - Sticker(s) on label.

sps - Split seam.

sr - Slight ring wear.

ss - Still sealed.

stock copy - A copy of a record or CD that is intended for retail sale.

studio cast - Recording of a cast assembled in the recording studio to replicate a stage recording.


test pressing - A pressing made to test quality in advance of a longer run or for use as promos prior to finished promo or commercial product being available.

timing strip - A label, generally on a CD cover or album case, that indicates the minutes of play of a track or tracks.

title cover - The cover of a CD or 12" single that has a worded title.

title insert - An insert in a CD single that has a worded title.

tobc - Tear on back cover.

toc - Tear or tape on front cover.

tol - Tear on label.

tpos - Tape on seams.

turntable - The mechanical device used to play vinyl records, still in popular use by disc jockeys.


uncut picture disc - An item which when commercially released was a shaped disc, but for test pressing purposes has been left circular with either a clear or colored surround around the actual picture. Only a handful are ever in circulation.


various artists - A recording that is comprised of selections by more than one artist.


wallet sleeve - Cardboard pocket into which a CD can be slipped.

wax - North American term for vinyl. Commonly found in the phrase "Coloured wax".

wlp or white label promo - A promotional pressing of a record with a completely blank label denoting it is promo only. Usually produced in limited quantities and at higher quality than stock copy.

woc - Writing on cover.

wol - Writing on label.


xol - An "X" on the label of a record, usually indicating the plug side of a promotional copy.


z-pack - CD case that opens out to a "Z" shape. Generally narrower than a regular double CD case and usually intended to hold a double CD single set.