ISRC - International Standard Recording Code 

What Is It?

An ISRC is a unique 12-digit code that is assigned to a specific sound recording (i.e CD, audio file, video, etc...) . In short, the ISRC code is essentially a "digital fingerprint" for a sound recording -it represents a recording's unique identification number and helps separate it from the hundreds and thousands of other sound recordings worldwide. 

This number is used to track and verify specific information about a recording, including but not limited to:

  • Track recording sales, streams, and radio station plays
  • Artist(s) name
  • Label name 
  • UPC (Universal Product Code)
  • Identifying the authors of composition being recorded

Remember that each recording can only have one ISRC code attached it, and this code should never be reused for another recording. So for example, if an artist plans on releasing a 15-song album for public consumption, that artist would assign 15 unique ISRC codes (one per each track being released) which would be linked to each specific recording forever. 

Who Needs an ISRC Code

A simple way to figure out if you need an ISRC code is to ask yourself this question: Is my recording being released for public consumption? If the answer is yes, then an ISRC code will be an extremely helpful resource when it comes to maximizing your potential earnings. Once a code has been embedded into your track, it uniquely identifies that track/composition as belonging to you, and allows people/services to know exactly who needs to be paid for the use of that recording. 

How are ISRC Codes Created?

An ISRC code consists of 4 different parts that are made up as follows-

  1. Country Code (2 ASCII characters) - The very first two characters in any ISRC code represent the country where the registrant's home-base is. These characters stay the same regardless of where the sound recording is being distributed. 
  2. Registrant Code (3 ASCII characters or digits) - previously known as "First Owner Code", these  3 characters represent the person who registered the sound recording. These 3 characters remain the same across all recordings you register. 
  3. Year of Reference (2 digits or ASCII characters)  - This set of characters represent the year in which the ISRC was assigned to the sound recording. 
  4. Designation Code / Serial Number (5 digits)  - The final 5 digits of an ISRC code is simply a number the owner of the recording designates to the track. For example, 00001 would represent the 1st track you released during X year, 0002 represents the 2nd track you released in the same year, and so on. 

Here is an example of a code someone would issue from the USA for their first track released in 2016:     

How Can I Get One?

ISRC codes  are typically provided by your distributor, such as services like DistroKid or CD Baby.  However, if you currently do not work with a distributor you can still obtain one through www.USISRC.org. This site is open to any and all artists/bands/labels/writers/music distributors/etc... All you have to do is simply fill out the form, and pay a one-time fee of $80USD. Once this is complete you will gain access to your own personal online account with all your ISRCs. 

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