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Difference Between Soundtrack and Cast Recording

Difference Between Soundtrack and Cast Recording

Trainspotting Soundtrack Cover

Soundtracks and cast recordings are related concepts, but there are still major differences between them.

A cast recording, as its name implies, is a recording made by a cast, usually comprising of songs in a musical performance. Cast recordings are derived from live performances, usually in the form of musical theatre.

The purpose of a cast recording is to record all the songs in a particular performance and to serve as a souvenir for avid fans and followers of a live performance.

The recordings are made in a recording studio for greater clarity and quality of sound. Since the sound is produced in a controlled environment, the audio is bereft of natural background noises such as the audience’s reaction to the performance. Also, the recording has a finer sound quality and a cleaner treatment. Despite being made in a studio, the song lyrics and orchestrations are very similar to the live performance.

Cast recordings are also labelled depending on who performs in them. The term ‘original cast recording’ pertains to the original cast of the musical that did the recording. The recordings label could also refer to a particular place or venue where the play was performed. If the recording was done on Broadway, the album will be labelled as ‘Broadway cast recording’. The same holds true for other stage performances and venues all over the world.

On the other hand, soundtracks are pre-recorded audio tracks that are used in different productions, not only in musical theatre. A soundtrack is a contraction of two words, sound and track and pertains to audio recordings made during the production or post-production stage of a performance.

Difference Between Soundtrack and Cast Recording-1

Lola Montez Cast Recording Cover

A soundtrack is usually the music track of a performance or movie. The music track is usually the orchestral score made as background or ambiance music for a particular scene.

Soundtracks are utilized in many forms and have four types. There are

  • musical film soundtracks where there is a concentration on the songs;
  • non-musical films soundtracks, which consist of film scores that are often used as ambiance or background music;non-musical films, where full or partial songs are used in the background; anddifferent media such as video games, TV series, and Japanese animation soundtracks that are comprised of background music, songs, and character themes, as well as the sound effects that were used in the production.

Like the cast recording, soundtracks are recorded in a studio. However, soundtracks are usually made up of different components. Instead of the cast, the sound can be produced by an orchestra, recording artists, foley sounds, or computer-generated sounds that are specifically made for a certain type of production.

Also, the soundtrack isn’t derived from a live performance but serves to enhance the scene or the performance itself.


  1. The cast recording is a recording made by the original cast of a musical performance while the soundtrack is a mixture of components, depending on what type of performance or use it is intended for (movie, video game, animation, or TV series). The cast recording is solely used as a commemoration of a musical’s live performance while soundtracks can be used beyond just musicals plays in a lot of media forms.
  2. Cast recordings are made up of songs that are naturally included in a particular piece while soundtracks are often created to enhance the piece it is intended for. Soundtracks also contain more than songs—they usually feature orchestral scores that function as ambiance music, sound effects, character songs, and remixed songs (in animation).
  3. The cast recording usually has different labels depending on the cast who made the recording. The label can use ‘original cast recording’ if the original cast did the recording or a particular venue’s name like Broadway, London, etc. For soundtracks, there is no particular labeling unless another soundtrack under the same material was released.

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