Why Producers Should Use ISRC Codes

When a recording has an ISRC it can be uniquely and easily identified.
This is a first step in being able to manage recordings and associated revenues.

  • Producers of recordings assign ISRCs to their recordings to allow each recording to be clearly, unambiguously distinguished from other recordings across complex value chains
  • Digital distributors use ISRC within their databases and stores, linked to information such as reviews, and for sales reporting
  • Music Licensing Companies use ISRC to identify tracks and to implement track-based distribution and reporting
  • Broadcasters and webcasters use ISRC in their reports of the usage of recordings
  • ISRC may also have a role in certain anti-piracy scenarios

With the transition to digital commerce, the ISRC has become increasingly important, as it can reliably identify recordings when data is exchanged between different proprietary systems.

When To Assign An ISRC

Any new or materially changed recording must be provided with a new ISRC.
An ISRC is assigned to a sound or music video recording before it is released and remains the same for the lifetime of the recording.An ISRC can be assigned retrospectively too. If a recording was released without an ISRC one should be allocated before it is re-released.

Each distinct recording should be assigned its own unique ISRC. If a recording appears at different bit-rates or on different formats the same ISRC is retained.

Recordings are considered to be different based on differences in the actual recorded content, such as:

  • Different versions, for example having differences in playing time
  • Different mixes/edits
  • Creating a new surround mix from recorded stems
  • Restoration of a historical recordings that involves creative input

The general rule is that if the changes being made to the recording involve new artistic input then a new ISRC code is assigned to the resulting recording or version.

ISRCs can also be assigned to:

  • Promotional material or hidden tracks
  • Podcasts, radio interviews, audio books and wildlife recordings.

If a recording did not have an ISRC originally, has changed ownership, 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 assignment of the ISRC, NOT the year the recording was made.

An ISRC should be assigned to recordings even where copyright has expired.

Different ISRCs can be assigned to different parts of a recording, particularly if these may be separately exploited.

Different ISRCs can be assigned to:

  • Individual movements of classical repertoire as well as the overall work.
  • Ring sounds that are digitized audio files, but not ringtones which are control files and have no element of a recording.

When should I not Assign ISRC?

An ISRC registrant should not assign ISRCs to recordings owned by another party.
ISRC should not be assigned if an ISRC has previously been assigned to the same recording. Instead the existing ISRC should be used.

The assigned ISRC identifies the recording regardless of format or bit-rate differences. The ISRC of a recording should remain the same across different releases or formats.

If the recording is licensed to another party or used across different countries, the existing ISRC of the recording should be retained and used.

If the recording is licensed to other entities on different terms or different rights are licensed, the same ISRC still applies to the recording.

ISRC is not used to identify compositions or lyrics, nor is it used to identify the products or releases (such as a CD or an MP3) that may contain an embodiment of a sound recording.

It is expected that parties assigning ISRC will comply with copyright law.

Normally this will require permission from the owner of any recorded material included within the recording.

Learn More

This is the first place you should start:  http://isrc.ifpi.org/en/


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