ISRC Code Information

I get a number of questions on ISRC codes. Such as, What is an ISRC Code? Where are ISRC codes embedded? How to I register ISRC codes? Let me just sum up some key points. There will be some reference links at the end of this post for more information.

What is an ISRC Code?

An ISRC is a 12 digit code that acts as your recording’s digital fingerprint. It identifies the recording for digital distributors & digital aggregators to track sales and radio’s to track royalties. ISRC’s are required by iTunes and most other digital distributors. The code is for a single recording, not a song, since a song can have different mixes, masters, re-mixes, edits, etc…

 

An ISRC code looks like this “CA7F41200001” (sorry if that’s someone’s code, I made it up). ISRC Code digits breakdown:

– Digits 1 & 2: is for the country.

– Digits 3,4 & 5: are the organization / company (record label);

– Digits 6 & 7: is the year it was registered;

-Digits 8 to 12: is the recordings unique ID:

Where are ISRC codes embedded?

ISRC codes can be embedded into a physical CD or a digital file. The two main types of files that carry ISRC codes are mp3‘s,  embedded as standard ID3 tags. Or a BWF wav file, embedded as text data. There is no dedicated place for an ISRC on any a file, unless it’s an mp3 or physical CD.

When files are transferred to a digital file format (wav, mp3) from a CD. The codes are not transferred. The same when a bwf (wav file) is converted to an mp3. The codes will have to be embedded back into these files.

Who Regulates ISRC’s?

ISRC codes are regulated by the recording industry worldwide in over 66 countries by IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry). Although it’s not legally required for the IFPI to regulate your recordings, I see no harm in doing so, and recommend to register your ISRC Codes with a Local ISRC Agency. Digital distributors can assign their own codes, if you choose. My Recommendation is to register them yourself and provide the distributors your registered code, this way you are the owner.

How do I register ISRC Codes?

Record Label’s and Artist’s can obtain ISRC codes by applying for an ISRC Registrant Code. It’s FREE to register codes with any agency around the world.  The RIAA in the United States, will charge a one time application fee of $75 to have your own company code ID (Please visit the RIAA site for more information).

Here are some quick links to some agencies: for Canada, it’s CRIA at www.avla.ca; for UK, it’s www.ppluk.com: for the Unites States it’s, RIAA. For a complete list of Local ISRC Agencies, click here.

Closing Comments

Using ISRC codes can’t harm your tracks, it can only be a good thing. There is nothing to lose by having as many track identifying codes as possible on your recordings.This will only add information to the recording and assist in it being identified. Most mastering houses will embed this information on the files as part of their services, including me.  If you intends to sell, promote or license music. you should have your own ISRC code.

Resources

a) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Standard_Recording_Code
b) http://www.ifpi.orgWhat is the ISRC?

c) http://www.gearslutz.com

d) http://www.avla.ca

e) http://www.recording.org