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ISRC Codes: An Overview

We will define what an ISRC code is an breakdown the different parts of the code.

We will explain how ISRC codes are utilized in the united states by retailers and companies.

We will walk you through the registration process in required order to get your own ISRC codes for your products.


Vyral University: isrc codes: An Overview

ISRC Codes: An Overview

Digital Retailers use ISRC codes as identifiers for tracks on sound recordings. These codes allow them to access information about each track on a release, acting as a digital fingerprint for that song. ISRC stands for International Standard Recording Code (for some reason many people refer to these as “ISRC codes” despite the redundancy). These codes are imbedded on each individual track of a release. Digital Retailers and digital music companies use these codes to access information associated with each track. The ISRC code is much like a UPC barcode in that it is a 12 digit code, and it is broken into four parts. You can use these codes to track information regarding royalty collection and sales. One of the most interesting things about an ISRC code is that it is not changed with the exchange of ownership. The ISRC code will stay with the track through it’s existence in the digital realm.

Here is an example of an ISRC code as issued by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). The IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) has been designated as the authority over the registration and obtainment of ISRC Codes worldwide, and has delegated that responsibility in the US to the RIAA.


Just like UPC Barcodes, ISRC codes are broken down into four main parts. These parts help to identify each individual track. Let’s take a look at the different sections of an ISRC code.

COuntry CODE:
The first two “characters” are actually letters. As you can probably tell, these two letters identify the country where the SRCO (sound recording copyright owner) resides. Each country has a specific two-letter code assigned to them. (obviously the code for the United States is “US”).

Registrant CODE:
The next three “characters” are the registrant code. This is a unique identifier issued to each registrant. When you register with the US-ISRC, they will provide you with your own unique registrant code, which will be used of ALL tracks you own.

Year of Reference Code:
The “year of reference” section of the ISRC code is a two digit code that references the year that the ISRC was applied to the recording.

TRACK Identifier Code:
The last 5 digits of the ISRC code are the track code. This code is generated by the registrant and is a unique number to identify each track in the registrant’s catalog. This code cannot be reused after it is assigned to a track until one year has passed.


HOW TO OBTAIN A Registrant Code:
There is only one way to obtain a registrant code in the US, and that is through an online registration process with the US-ISRC. Let’s walk through the steps of the registration process. You can start by navigating to Registration requires a one time fee of $75.00.

Getting Started:
Locate the box on the homepage that says, “Obtain a Registrant Code” and click on the read more link.

SHort Questionnaire:
There will be a series of 4 yes or no questions for you to answer to determine your eligibility.

Are you the SRCO? If you don’t have a record label then you most likely Are you based in the United States.

Do you have more than 10K titles. I’m guessing this is a no.

If you are reading this article, then you probably don’t have one already. when you are finished, click next to continue.


HOW TO OBTAIN A Registrant Code: Registration Form
The next step is a two part registration form. This form is very simple and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Part 1 of 2:

This is your name.

If you do not have a label or a distributor, leave these blank

The rest of this information is dealing with the person who should be contacted regarding this registration and their contact info should be completed here. This is most likely your personal information.

Make sure to enter the code displayed to the right here.

when you are finished, click next to continue.


HOW TO OBTAIN A Registrant Code: Part 2 of 2:

This is your name.

This is the email where the registration info will be sent.

If You are the account manager as well, clicking this button will automatically fill in the rest of the form with the information entered in the previous step.

when you are finished, click next to continue.


HOW TO OBTAIN A Registrant Code: Registration Payment:
The last step is to pay the $75.00 Dollar Registration Fee. You can choose to use the information you provided in the previous steps or you can choose to enter your own billing information.

Billing Details:
Depending on which option you choose, this form will pop-up with pre-filled with that information (or blank of you choose “ I Will Enter Billing Info”.

when you are finished, click Pay By Credit Card to continue.

Credit Card Details:
The final step is to enter your credit card information. Make sure that the credit card you enter is associated with the billing details you provided in the previous step.

when you are finished, click submit to process your payment.


There are 4 main parts to an ISRC code as discussed earlier. It is very simple to make ISRC codes for your recordings. The first 2 sections will be the same for each code. The third section is simply the last two numbers of the year (so codes made this year would be “10”) Maybe the only confusing part is the last section of the code which is the Track Designation code. The US-ISRC recommends that you start with 00001 and work your way up. note: if you are registering video and audio, the US-ISRC recommends that you designate audio recordings with a 9 as the first digit in the code. ex: 90001 For Example: ALBUM 1: track 1 US - _ _ _ - 10 - 00001 track 2 US - _ _ _ - 10 - 00002 ALBUM 2: track 1 US - _ _ _ - 10 - 00003 track 2 US - _ _ _ - 10 - 00004 you get the idea right?..... These codes do not need to be registered with anyone, but you should keep a spreadsheet record of all codes you assign, and make sure to keep these codes unique to each track, meaning that you should not re-use any codes. SO WHEN DO I USE THESE CODES: There are many different ways to use them, but two of the major uses are digital distribution and registration with Sound Exchange. When you are filling out your digital distribution information, there will be a place to put the ISRC code for each track. The same goes for Sound Exchange. When you are registering your works, you will be asked to enter the ISRC code associated with each work you register.


Sound Exchange:
Sound Exchange uses these codes for tracking and reporting performance royalties.

Digital Retailers:
Most digital retailers use these codes not only to track and report sales, but also to provide track information such as track length, track title, artist and album name, and more.

There is no database for these codes...
That’s right, there is no agency or organization that keeps a database of these codes. They are user-created and user-maintained. You do not have to register your codes with anyone except yourself. This has caused many people to question the use and administration of this system in general. Many people are calling for a more uniform system with better record keeping practices and guidelines.

The RIAA governs ISRC registration in the US.

Benefits of ISRC Codes...
There are many benefits to having these codes embedded on your recordings. Most media players can read these codes. They give you a unique way to catalog your recordings. And maybe best of all, they allow you to provide an accurate way for Sound Exchange and digital retailers to track your recordings. There are many confusions about the actual use and benefit of this system, but until a better system is devised and implemented, it is a good idea to obtain and implement these codes with all of your recordings.

Difference between UPC Barcodes and ISRC’s.
UPC Codes are used to track physical inventory. ISRC’’s are used to track digital inventory. They do however share one similarity. Both of them can access information about the product/recording and provide an easy way for retailers to catalog and report their inventory.

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