Cut-out (recording industry)

The spines of eight CDs with cut-out marks

In the recording industry, a cut-out refers to a deeply discounted or remaindered copy of an LP, 45 RPM single, cassette tape, Compact Disc, or other item.


Two different ways of marking Cut-Out records on LP Jackets

When LPs were the primary medium for the commercial distribution of sound recordings, manufacturers would physically cut the corner, punch a hole, or add a notch to the spine of the jacket of unsold records returned from retailers; these "cut-outs" might then be re-sold to record retailers or other sales outlets for sale at a discounted price. 45 RPM singles records were usually drilled with a hole through the label, or stamped "C.O.". A special section of a record store devoted to such items was known as the cut-out bin or bargain bin.[1][2]

As tapes and CDs supplanted LPs, the mechanisms for indicating a cut-out changed. On cassettes, a hole tended to be punched or burned through the case and through its printed insert. On CDs (a practice that continues today), a section of varying size is taken out of the spine of the jewel case and its paper track listing. Other methods of cutting CDs include punching a hole through the UPC and clipping a corner off of the front insert.

Cut-outs are typically wholesaled to retailers as non-returnable items, meaning that the store cannot send them back to the distributor for a refund; the reason for the cut or hole in the packaging is to mark the item as non-returnable.[2] The marking also serves to prevent the retailer from selling the discounted item at full price.[1] Recording artists also typically do not get full royalties from cut-outs, since they're sold at a "promotional" cost, far less than the retail price.[1] Except for the physical damage to the liner notes and outer case, the inner disc (LP or CD) is generally unharmed by the cut-out process, and sounds the same as the originally sold recording.

A similar cut-out procedure was practiced with the laserdisc home video format as well as the 8-track tape cartridge. The practice has also been extended to DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and other home video physical formats.

Dakou cassettes and CDs in China

Cut-out (Chinese: 打口; pinyin: dǎkǒu) cassettes and CDs played an important role in the development of rock music in China.[3] Dakou was the major and often the only source of foreign rock and pop music in China.[4]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "Foetusized Attempts to Explain Cut-Out & Promo CDs". 2005-12-30. Archived from the original on July 19, 2011. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  2. 1 2 "Music formats discussed, The Cut-Out". Retrieved 2010-01-28.
  3. China with a Cut by Jeroen de Kloet, extract from pp. 17-25
  4.,9171,409647,00.html Zombie Discs, by Neil Gough, Time magazine, 20 Jan 2003
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