ISRC - International Sound Recording
The ISRC (International
Standard Recording Code) is the international identification
system for sound recordings and music videorecordings. Each
ISRC is a unique and permanent identifier for a specific
recording which can be permanently encoded into a product
as its digital fingerprint. Encoded ISRC provide the
means to automatically identify recordings for royalty payments.
The International Federation
of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) recommends that all music
producers use ISRC.
Benefits of using ISRC
The ISRC system
is the key to royalty collection for recordings in the digital
has been developed in order to facilitate the accurate exchange
of information on the ownership, the use of recordings and
to simplify the administration of rights in them. It is a
global, unique method of identifying sound and music video
- ISRC is a unique,
reliable, international identification system.
- ISRC provides a unique
tool for the purpose of rights administration.
- ISRC is a useful
identification tool in the electronic distribution of
- ISRC coding is compatible
with standards developed in the field of consumer electronics
and is readable by hardware already used in the recording
- ISRC is cost effective
- it can be put into operation without requiring special
investment in equipment or technologies.
By identifying all sound and music video recordings
that are released, regardless of the format that they are
released in, the ISRC enables the tracking and tracing of
these recordings through the music value chain.
Potential users of sound and music video recordings
will also find it easier to obtain information about the current
rights owner because repertoire databases will provide this
information with the ISRC.
In addition in many territories the ISRC is
increasingly becoming a tool in the fight against piracy.
The adoption of the ISRC system by the music
community as a whole has the following benefits:
ISRC, being the worldwide
recognised standard for recording identification, can
easily be accepted and implemented internationally and
allow interoperation of different databases and systems.
The ISRC coding system
is compatible with standards developed in the field of
consumer electronics. Incorporated in appropriate digital
and manufactured recording media it is readable by hardware
The ISRC is increasingly
used in electronic copyright management systems and Digital
Rights Management systems.
The implementation of
ISRC is cost effective; ISRC can be put into operation
without requiring special investment in equipment. It
only requires a structure able to deal with the administration
of ISRC within the organisation using it.
we apply to get an ISRC?
National ISRC Agency for your territory. An up to date,
alphabetical list is available here.
If there is no ISRC Agency in your territory, you can obtain
an ISRC from the International ISRC Agency (email: email@example.com)
Does our company have to be a member of the International
Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) or my national
music industry trade association in order to be eligible to
assign ISRCs to our recordings?
No. The ISRC
System is constructed so that any entity creating sound
or music video recordings can issue ISRCs regardless of
their membership of, or standing with, industry associations
and other bodies.
How is an ISRC constructed?
An ISRC is
made up of four elements:
e.g. GB for the UK, or US for the USA, DE for Germany,
Code, a three alpha-numeric unique reference
Year of Reference,
the last two digits of the current year, e.g. ‘03’ for
Code, a five digit unique number, e.g. ‘00013’
The ISO Country Code and the Registrant Code
are issued by the National Agencies or by the International
ISRC Agency; the rest of the identifier is then allocated
by the entity wishing to identify their sound or music video
Are the hyphens included when encoding an ISRC onto a CD?
No. The hyphens
are only used when the ISRC Code is visually presented.
Please see Section 3.5.1
More detailed information about ISRC implementation
in software can be found in the ISRC Handbook, Section 4.10
Our company has just acquired the rights to a recording that
already has an ISRC. Do we have to apply for a new ISRC for
No. The ISRC
remains the same, regardless of changed ownership.
The first owner of the rights to a recording
normally assigns an ISRC. Once assigned that ISRC identifies
the recording throughout its life. Changes in ownership
do not affect the ISRC. However if changes are made
to the recording that involve new artistic input and these
affect the rights associated with that recording, and it
is re-issued, the new owner must assign a new ISRC, using
their Registrant Code.
What sorts of changes to an existing recording that already
has an ISRC require a new ISRC?
These are some
of the modifications to a recording that would require the
allocation of a new ISRC:
information can be found in the ISRC Handbook please
see Section 4.9
Our company uses an in-house code for identifying our sound
and music video recordings. We then use this in the desgination
code of the ISRC. Sometimes an in-house code may apply to two
versions of the same recording because we have remastered some
of our backstock for re-issue. Can we use the same ISRC for
the new remastered version?
of an ISRC that has already been allocated to another recording
or to another version of a recording is not permitted in
order to guarantee the unique and unambiguous identification
provided by an ISRC.
A new ISRC should be assigned whenever a recording
has been re-issued in a revised or re-mastered form, even
if both items have the same in-house code.
If a recording has been issued without an ISRC, can it be
assigned one retroactively?
which have not been assigned an ISRC, should be provided
with one before it is re-released.
If the recording has changed ownership, and
did not have an ISRC originally and is being released unchanged
by the current rights holder, the Registrant Code should
be that of the current rights holder. The Year of Reference
should be the year of allocation of the new ISRC.
Our company issues both sound and music video recordings.
Do both types of product get an ISRC?
Yes. As well
as using the ISRC to identify sound recordings and music
video recordings, ISRC may be used to identify associated
audio and audiovisual
material, more detailed information can be found in the
ISRC Handbook, please see Section 4.4
and Section 4.5
Does the ISRC System distinguish between sound and music
video recordings released by the same company?
legislation often differentiates between the administrations
of rights in sound recordings and in music video recordings
(for instance as phonograms or videograms), it is recommended
that the procedures for assigning ISRC include a means of
distinguishing between audio and audiovisual formats in
order to facilitate rights management.
It is left to the discretion of the National
ISRC Agencies to decide the appropriate method of administering
this distinction, more detailed information is available
in the ISRC Handbook, please see Section 3.6
Which part of our company should be responsible for issuing
ISRCs to our releases?
It is strongly
recommended that organisations have formal procedures for
assigning ISRCs. These should make responsibility clear
and ensure that duplication or confusion when assigning
the identifiers does not result.
It is important that ISRCs are actually encoded
into appropriate digital products. And since ISRCs are normally
allocated at the point prior to the preparation of the final
production Pre-Master it is recommended that the responsibility
for assigning ISRCs is linked to the area responsible for
What happens when an ISRC is assigned to the wrong item?
How can the problem be solved? Can we re-use the ISRC on the
item for which it was originally intended?
an ISRC must not be re-used under any circumstances, more
detailed information is available in the ISRC Handbook
please see Section 4.1.3
Can ISRCs be applied to promotional material?
can be applied to promotional material such as 30-second
clips and hidden tracks particularly if at any time in the
future the asset may be separately exploited- this does
not necessarily imply monetary value. More detailed information
is available in the ISRC Handbook, please see Section 4.1.2
& Section 4.9.3
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