The International Standard Recording Code
IFPI is the ISO-appointed international registration authority for ISRC
ISRC Handbook (incorporating the ISRC Practical Guide)
2nd Edition, 2003, © IFPI Secretariat 2003
This handbook is designed to provide guidance on the implementation of the International Standard Recording Code (ISRC).
ISRC was developed by the international recording industry through the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) as a response to a need to identify sound and music video recordings. The current version is known as International Standard ISO 3901:2001.
ISO is a worldwide federation of national standards bodies. ISO 3901:2001 was prepared and is administered by Technical Committee ISO/TC 46, Information and documentation, Subcommittee 9, Presentation, identification and description of documents and was ratified as an international standard in 2001, following the adoption of the original standard in 1986.
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) has recommended since 1988 to its members that ISRC should be adopted as an international means of identification of sound recordings and short form music videos.
In 1989 IFPI Secretariat was appointed the International Registration Authority for ISRC by ISO and functions as the International ISRC Agency; and since 1989, 49 National Agencies have been appointed by the International Agency.
This ISRC Handbook explains how the system works and what has to be done to ensure that ISRCs are correctly assigned. It has been completely revised from the previous editions of the ISRC Practical Guide, which are withdrawn. It reflects the changes that have been made in the revision to ISO 3901:2001.
The ISRC Handbook will be reissued on an annual basis to reflect agreed practice in the use and administration of ISRC.
3. Interpretation of ISO 901:2001
3.1. Scope and purpose of the ISRC
The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) provides a means of uniquely identifying sound recordings and music videos internationally. For the purposes of this handbook, a music video recording is defined as a short form music video initially produced to support the release of a track.
It is stressed that ISRC identifies sound recordings and music video recordings and not physical products (‘carriers’) and that there is no conflict with existing product catalogue numbering systems with which it co-exists. Neither does ISRC identify a digitally distributed package, although sound and music video recordings included in such a package should be identified with an ISRC.
The ISRC system is constructed so that any entity creating sound recordings can obtain the means to issue ISRCs regardless of their membership, of or standing with, industry associations and other bodies.
3.2. ISRC Principles
Each distinct recording is to have its own unique ISRC.
The first owner or current owner of the rights to a recording normally assigns the ISRC, providing no ISRC has been issued before. It identifies the recording throughout its life and is intended for use by producers of sound recordings and music videos (i.e. record labels), as well as by copyright organisations, broadcasting organisations, libraries, licensees etc.
Any new or materially changed recording must be provided with a new ISRC (see Section 4.9.1Re-mixes/ Edits / ). Re-use of an ISRC that has already been allocated for another recording is not permitted see Section 4.1.3 No re-use.
If a recording is sold or licensed and is then released unchanged the ISRC remains the same.
3.3. The Benefits of ISRC
The ISRC 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 recordings.
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 equipment.
- 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.
3.4. Administration of the ISRC system
The administration of the ISRC system is carried out at two levels:
3.4.1. International Administration
The international administration of the ISRC system is in the hands of the International ISRC Agency (IFPI Secretariat).
The address of the International Agency is:
International ISRC Agency
54 Regent Street
London W1B 5RE
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7878 7900
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7878 6832
The responsibilities of the International ISRC Agency are:
3.4.2. National Administration
- To promote the worldwide use of the system;
- To appoint the National (or regional) ISRC Agencies and to maintain a list of the appointed National ISRC Agencies;
- To administer the ISRC system for territories where no National ISRC Agency exists;
- To recommend procedures for the efficient implementation of the ISRC system and to publish these from time to time;
- To answer queries on the implementation of the ISRC system;
- To report annually to ISO on its activities, the worldwide adoption of ISRC, and the continued relevance of the text of ISO 3901 and to recommend any changes needed.
The administration of ISRC within territories is delegated to appointed agencies, which form the link between Registrants and the International ISRC Agency.
A list of appointed ISRC Agencies is contained in Appendix one: List of
agencies and is also available on the International ISRC Agency
website (www.ifpi.org/isrc). This is kept fully up to date.
The responsibilities of National Agencies are to:
- On request, allocate Registrant Codes to all those in their territory wishing to register sound recordings and music video recordings, regardless of the applicants membership of, or standing with, the National Agency, industry associations and other bodies;
- Inform all Registrants of the appropriate Country Code;
- Promote the use of the ISRC system to recording industry and other entities and use best endeavours to ensure that an ISRC is allocated to all sound recordings and music video recordings issued in their territory;
- Encourage the proper allocation of ISRCs to sound recordings where no allocation was made on release;
- Keep a record of all Registrant Codes and to which entities they were allocated and in accordance with ISO 3901:2001, Annex A.5.2 maintain a listing:
(Name, Address and other contact details)
Department or person to be contacted (if necessary)
||Date Registrant Code Issued|
- Report annually to the International ISRC Agency on the Registrant Codes allocated in their territory (as above) and on implementation of ISRC;
- Provide Registrants with guidelines in local languages where appropriate, on the practical implementation of the system and resolve operational problems in liaison with the International ISRC Agency to prevent inconsistencies;
- Act as controller and arbitrator for all ISRC matters in its country, taking advice from the International ISRC Agency where appropriate;
- Ensure as far as possible that all sound recordings and music video recordings released in their territory are included in appropriate repertoire databases whether operated by the Agency itself or by another entity on a national or regional basis.
3.5. Description of the ISRC
The following description summarises the International Standard ISO 3901: 2001 but does not replace it. Where interpretation is required, reference should be made to the ISO document, which is authoritative. Copies of ISO3901: 2001 can be obtained from national standards bodies and direct from ISO (http://www.iso.org/).
ISRC is a unique identifier for sound and music video recordings where one, and only one, identifying code is allocated to each version of the recording.
For code allocation purposes, the ISRC is separated into its different elements. However when the code is being used, it is the whole number that represents the sound or music video recording and no significance should be accorded to any one element. In particular, the Registrant Code (see Section 3.5.3. Registrant Code) cannot be assumed to identify a current rights owner as the recording may have changed hands since code allocation. Additionally rights may vary territory by territory. Further, the year of reference cannot be assumed to be a year of recording. It represents the year the ISRC was assigned, which may or may not be the year the sound recording was released (see Section 3.5.4 Year of Reference ).
The ISRC is alphanumeric, using digits (the ten Arabic numerals 0 - 9) and the 26 letters of the Roman alphabet. The ISRC consists of twelve characters representing country (2 characters), Registrant (3 characters), Year of Reference (2 digits) and Designation (5 digits). For visual presentation it is divided into four elements separated by hyphens and the letters ISRC should always precede an ISRC code. The hyphens are however not part of the ISRC. See Section 4.10 ISRC Implementation in Software for presentation of ISRC in computer software. The elements appear in the following order:
- Country Code
- Registrant Code
- Year of Reference
- Designation Code
The structure of the ISRC is shown in the following example:
3.5.2. Country Code
ISRC FR - Z03 - 98 – 00212|
FR = France
Z03 – Mercury France
|Year of Reference
98 = 1998
The Country Code identifies the country of residence of the registrant. Where the Registrant is part of a group with operations in several countries, the Registrant may elect to either:
- Register in the country where the local operating entity is located or
- Register in the country where the international headquarters is located.
In making this decision, the operation of repertoire databases and other industry-wide activities should be taken into consideration. It is recommended that Registrants consult with their National Agency on the matter.
The Country Code consists of the two letters allocated to the Country according to the ISO 3166-1-Alpha-2 standard. Copies of ISO 3166 are available from National standards bodies and direct from ISO (http://www.iso.org/). The German National Standards body (DIN) acts for the ISO 3166 Maintenance Agency and publishes a free list of Country Codes on its website. IFPI will maintain a link to this information on the ISRC website - www.ifpi.org/isrc. The International ISRC Agency will inform each National Agency of the correct code for its territory. National Agencies will inform all Registrants of the national Country Code.
FR = France
JP = Japan
GB = United Kingdom
3.5.3. Registrant Code
The Registrant Code identifies the entity assigning the Designation Code in an ISRC.
Since ISRCs are normally allocated at the point prior to the preparation of the final production Pre-Master, the Registrant Code will normally reflect the original producer of the recording. However, if the producer of a recording sells the recording with all rights before its ISRC is assigned, the new owner should be considered as the Registrant when they elect to allocate an ISRC.
The Registrant Code is alphanumeric and consists of three characters, each of which can be either numeric or alphabetic. This provides a maximum capacity of 46,656 Registrant Codes per territory. National Agencies will allocate appropriate codes in accordance with local conditions and customs, but will ensure uniqueness within their territory.
The Registrant Code is assigned by National Agencies upon application by an entity wishing to allocate ISRCs. National ISRC Agencies should allocate a Registrant Code to all applicants without reference to their membership of, or standing with, the organisation acting as National Agency. National Agencies may make a reasonable charge to cover their costs in allocating Registrant Codes, but should note that the usual practice has been to perform this function free of charge.
3.5.4 Year of Reference Element
The Year of Reference Element identifies the year in which the ISRC is allocated to the recording.
This allocation will normally take place in the year in which the
preparation of the final production Pre-Master for the recording is
finalised. The Year of Reference Code consists of the last two digits of
the year in which the ISRC is allocated (see Section 4.8 Year of Reference).
Definitions of this field in earlier revisions
of ISO 3901 and associated documentation referred to the year of
recording. This practice is not conformant with ISO 3901:
The use of the year of allocation
facilitates maintaining uniqueness, as no reference to the list of ISRCs
issued in previous years is needed to avoid issuing a duplicate code. The
year of recording is important information but should be obtained from the
metadata associated with the recording and not from the Year of Reference
92 for 1992
00 for 2000
Although the Year of Reference element is only two digits in
length, the ‘Year 2000’ (‘Y2K’) problem does not in practice arise with
ISRC. (See Section 4.8 Year
3.5.5 Designation Code
The Designation Code consists of five digits assigned by
the Registrant. Numbers for the Designation Code should preferably be
assigned sequentially and care should be taken to ensure that the same
Designation Codes are never re-used within one calendar
Registrants whose systems can ensure
uniqueness are at liberty to assign Designation Codes in any manner they
choose, for example by dividing the numeric range between business
The Designation Code must always be
five-digits long. Where the Designation Code is less than five digits
long, it should be packed from the left with zeros to make it five digits
in length, for example,’00013’.
3.6. Distinction between Sound and Music Video Recordings
As national 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
Appointed ISRC agencies may decide
on the appropriate method to administer this distinction. Two possible
- Provided the Registrant Code is alphanumeric and
consists of three characters, appointed ISRC agencies may administer
this code to suit their requirements. For instance, companies, which
produce both sound recordings and music videos, may be assigned separate
Registrant Codes for each of those formats.
Registrant Code used by ‘Company X’ in ISRC for sound recordings.
ZZ8 = Registrant Code used by ‘Company X’ in ISRC
for music video recordings.
Each agency should ensure, however, that the chosen
method keeps the ISRC system with sufficient numbering capacity to serve
the recording output of their territory.
- Information on the recording format can form part of
the basic ISRC information that registrants add to repertoire databases
(see Section 4.1.5 Registration in Repertoire
Databases). This information can be made available to users of the
system in an appropriate way, which allows them to identify whether an
allocated ISRC refers to an audio or an audiovisual item.
3.7. Encoding of the ISRC
The ISRC should be encoded in digital sound carriers in
the pre-mastering or authoring process in accordance with the
specification on the format used.
the ISRC should be allocated in each recording when a Master is completed
and the decision to release a recording has been made.
Normally the authoring system used will allow
an ISRC to be associated with each track. Where this is not the case, the
International ISRC Agency is able to approach manufacturers of such
systems to promote the benefits for all parties of including ISRC
capability. In the meanwhile, however, ISRCs should be assigned although
the authoring system may not permit an ISRC to be associated with the
As new formats emerge, the International
ISRC Agency will work with the industries concerned to ensure that ISRC
can be accommodated on them.
3.7.1. Compact Disc
In the case of Compact Discs the ISRCs and other PQ-data
are encoded in the disc sub-code (Q channel) in the disc mastering
process. For this reason, ISRCs must be encoded for each track in the
Pre-Master for CD. The ISRC codes, together with the Digital Copy
Prohibited flag, and the relevant point of sale code, such as EAN/UPC
should be inserted on the Pre-Master during the pre-mastering process from
the original Master.
The process for Mini-Disc is very similar to that for
In DVD-Audio, the ISRC is contained in the packet
headers of an audio stream and can be included by authoring
DVD-Video has a similar structure to DVD-Audio and the
ISRC can be added by authoring systems.
3.7.5. Super Audio CD
For the SACD (Super Audio CD) format, the ISRC coding
specification is contained in the SACD System description Part 2, Audio
Specification. It states that the ISRC and Genre List must be present in
the area called “Area TOC”, which contains information for each track. The
SACD specification recommends that the ISRC is present but if none is
assigned, the NUL code (00h) is automatically used.
3.7.6. VHS Music Video and other analogue tape
formats Being an analogue format, there is no clear place to
carry ISRC information. Where music videos are provided to broadcasters,
it is recommended that they should carry an ISRC number on the time clock
before the video and documentation accompanying the video.
3.7.7. Electronically Distributed Music
Most formats for electronically distributed music allow the inclusion of an ISRC, which can be inserted by
distributed formats include several tracks, the ISRC of each track should
be associated with it in the metadata of the file.
The MP3 format does allow rights management information
like ISRC to be included however it is rarely used. What is used is the
ID3 system of tags, which is not part of the international standard, but
does enable ISRC to be encoded.
therefore recommended that an ISRC be encoded into an ID3
A separate ISRC must be assigned to every different
track of a recording where there has been new creative or artistic input
but not to an unchanged track when it is reused on a new album of
4.1.2. Separate Exploitation
If at any time in the future the asset may be separately
exploited, and this does not necessarily imply monetary value, then an
ISRC should be allocated. Examples include: 30-second clips, hidden
tracks, interludes, callouts, and skits. These various examples will be
dealt with individually in Section 4.9.4 Special
4.1.3. No re-use
In order to guarantee the unique and unambiguous
identification of a recording, an ISRC once allocated must under no
circumstances be re-used. It is recognised that, owing to technical
errors, numbers will be incorrectly assigned. If this happens the number
must be deleted from the list of usable numbers and must not be assigned
to another recording.
Registrants should advise the National Agency, repertoire databases and all relevant business
partners of the numbers thus deleted and of the recordings to which they
were erroneously assigned.
A new ISRC should be assigned whenever a recording has been re-issued in a revised or fully
re-mastered form. Also see Sections 4.9.1Re-mixes/ Edits /
Session Takes and 4.9.10
4.1.4. Format Independence
A single ISRC is used for each unchanged recording regardless of the format in which it is released.
4.1.5. Registration in Repertoire Databases
Whilst there is no obligation in ISO3901: 2001 to keep
records (beyond those needed to ensure uniqueness), nor to register the
assignment with the National Agency or any other body, there is little
value in the ISRC system without such records being kept and comprehensive
databases being maintained. It is therefore strongly recommended that
Registrants keep good records and ensure that the details of the recording
(the metadata) and the ISRC allocated, are included in relevant repertoire
databases. The International ISRC Agency can provide advice on the
appropriate database in particular circumstances.
Work has begun on standardising a minimum metadata set. This is
being done by the International ISRC Agency, in co-operation with users
and the National Agencies, once completed it will be contained in Chapter 5.
4.2.1. Administration by National Agencies
The ISRC System is open to all bona fide producers of
sound and music video recordings: this includes individuals as well as
corporations. If an Agency receives an application from an entity that
they are unsure about, it is recommended that it get in touch with the
Applicant and check to make sure that they really do understand what the
ISRC System is for and what their obligations are (see Section 4.2.2 Administration by
If once these checks have been
made, and the National Agency is convinced that the Applicant is not a
bona fide producer, the International Agency should be informed so that it
can a) deal with enquiries related to the refusal and b) monitor the
number of such occurrences.
4.2.2. Administration by Registrants
A Registrant is responsible for assigning the
Designation Code (see Section 3.5.5 Designation Code).
Registrants can only assign ISRCs once issued with a Registrant Code from the National ISRC Agency (or the International
ISRC Agency, where appropriate) for their territory, please see Appendix one: List of
agencies or www.ifpi.org/isrc
for a list of those Agencies.
The owner of the recording may make arrangements with another body to issue ISRCs on its
behalf. If they do this they should ensure that uniqueness is maintained
and that details of the recording are supplied to a relevant repertoire
The ISRC should be included in all relevant documentation concerning the rights in a recording and their
A Registrant must ensure that a competent person is responsible for the assignment of ISRC and the
application of the pertinent regulations.
A Registrant must keep a register of all ISRCs that have been assigned.
4.3. Examples of the application of an ISRC
Example 1. New recording:
For an album comprising ten recordings taken from masters of recordings completed
in 1991, where an ISRC is assigned upon the completion of the recordings
in that year.
ISRC FR-Z03-91-01231 (Recording No 1)
ISRC FR-Z03-91-01232 (Recording No 2)
ISRC FR-Z03-91-01233 (Recording No 3)
and so on through to ...
ISRC FR-Z03-91-01240 (Recording No 10)
Example 2. Compilation:
For compiling a new album using previously released recordings
Examples of using complete recordings in their entirety
ISRC FR-Z03-91-01234 (Recording No 1)
ISRC FR-Z03-90-02345 (Recording No 2)
ISRC FR-Z03-89-03456 (Recording No 3)
and so on through to ...
ISRC FR-Z03-88-06789 (Recording No 10)
It should be noted that ISRCs allocated in previous years are to be
retained new ISRCs should not be assigned to the recordings.
4.4. Associated Video Assets
As well as using the ISRC to identify sound recordings
and music video recordings, ISRC may be used to identify audio and audiovisual material:
- which is closely associated with a released sound recording or short form music video,
- which is released in association with it, and
- where a musical performance does not form a substantial part of the content (for example, interviews, documentary material, etc.)
Registrants taking advantage of this provision are
required to ensure that such material can be clearly identified in
metadata provided to repertoire databases.
4.5. Concert Videos
Where a video of an entire concert is issued (either on
a retail product, electronically distributed or for broadcast) the
recording should normally be identified by an ISRC.
If parts of that recording are then subsequently exploited as a
sound recording, music video recording or a other video asset (see Section
4.4 Associated Video
Assets) then separate ISRCs should be assigned to the parts that are
4.6. Copyright Expired Recordings
An ISRC should be assigned to recordings even where copyright has expired.
A recording that is in the public domain in one country may be protected in another. Without the
ISRC it would be impossible to track such a recording’s exploitation. Even
if rights in the recording have expired, obligations to authors and
publishers may still exist. And finally a situation could occur as it did
in the UK in 1988, where expired rights could be resurrected by a term
extension. Without the ISRC it would be impossible to track exploitation
of recordings in these circumstances.
4.7. Multi-Channel Re-mixes
A multi-channel mix of a track should have a different
ISRC from the stereo mix of the same material.
A 5.1 mix and a stereo mix of the same 48 track master tape (the “multi-track”) should have different ISRCs even if done by the same person at the same time.
However, where the stereo track is derived from the multi-channel
by a simple mix-down process in the consumer equipment, then a new ISRC
should not be assigned.
A stereo track on a DVD-Audio disc that is in fact
derived from the 5.1 track on the disc by applying static coefficients
(i.e., left = 0.7 left front + 0.5 centre + 0.2 left surround – 0.1 right
surround) should have the same ISRC as the 5.1 channel
In general audio processing in consumer
equipment does not justify assignment of a new ISRC, even if the controls
to turn on and off the processing are carried with the original
A track intended for headphone listening, which is processed in the consumer
equipment from a 5.1 track should have the same ISRC as the 5.1.
Where the same mix is delivered using different technologies whether on the same carrier or different carriers,
the same ISRC should be used.
Where the same multi-channel track appears on
a DVD disc for playback in both audio and video players (in Pulse Code
Modulation (PCM)/Meridian Lossless Packing (MLP) and Dolby Digital/AC3
respectively), the same ISRC should be used. However, with these
technologies, the mixes may be different - because, for example, unlike
PCM/MLP, Dolby Digital band-limits the “.1” channel. Different ISRCs
should then be applied.
It is the responsibility of the
Registrant to ensure that their records distinguish between different
versions of the same material for multi-channel mixes in the same ways
they do for different ‘takes’ of the same material.
Encoding onto carriers
It is recognised that some carriers do not allow for different ISRCs to be
associated with different mixes of the same material. In this case, the
registrant should allocate the different ISRCs, but only one ISRC should
be applied to the carrier in question. The International ISRC Agency will
recommend a procedure for these circumstances.
Year of Reference
In accordance with the current
recommendations, the Year of Reference element should reflect the year of
allocation of the ISRC. Thus when an ISRC is assigned to a multi channel
mix of material previously released the year of reference used for the
multi channel mix should be the year that the ISRC is allocated.
4.8. Year of Reference
In accordance with current recommendations, the Year of
Reference element should reflect the year of allocation of the ISRC. Thus
a track that was originally released in 1996 but not assigned an ISRC
until 2001 should have a 2001 Year of Reference. The year of reference
does not have any copyright significance, and the Year of Reference in an
ISRC should be allocated from the current year.
In addition, while the year of reference is currently only two
digits, there is no Year 2000 (‘Y2K’) problem with the ISRC. The ISRC
system’s Year 2000 problem will not occur until the year 2040 because even
under previous recommendations that the Year element of an ISRC should
represent the year of recording, there was a recommendation that years
earlier than 1940 should not be used. There are a small number of
recordings that were nevertheless issued with ISRCs that represent years
before 1940 and the International ISRC Agency and the National Agencies
concerned are working on recommendations to avoid problems with
duplication. These will be included in a future release of this
4.9. Recommendations in Particular Circumstances
The following recommendations are made by the International ISRC Agency after consultation with users and National Agencies.
4.9.1 Re-mixes/ Edits / Session Takes
If multiple sound recordings are produced in the same
recording session with or without any change in orchestration,
arrangement, or artist and if they are preserved or turned into commercial
products, each recording shall be encoded with a new ISRC.
A new ISRC shall be given to each re-mix, edit
or new version of a recording.
It is recommended that the Registrant associate in its database the ISRC numbers of the
original recordings used in the remixing.
4.9.2 Changes in the playing time
The playing time of a recording is an important
characteristic as it is used for product design and also as a basic
element for the calculation of fees by copyright authorities, broadcasting
stations and the owner of the rights.
If the playing time is changed a new ISRC shall be allocated.
The following rules should be applied in determining whether a new ISRC is to be allocated.
- A record begins with the first recorded modulation and ends with the last recorded modulation.
- Deviations in the playing time, resulting from different measuring methods or changes in fade and which have no influence on existing legal rights, should not result in the allocation of a new ISRC.
- When a change of duration is intended ‘musically or artistically’, a new ISRC should be allocated.
- The recommended threshold is 10 seconds.
4.9.3 Special Cases
A separate ISRC should be assigned to any new (and
different) version of a recording (see Section 4.9.1 Re-mixes/ Edits / Session
Takes), which will be exploited regardless of the nature of this
exploitation. Specific guidance in particular cases appear
126.96.36.199 30-second clips
As even 30-second clips need to be licensed, they can be ‘separately exploited’ (see Section 4.1.2 Separate Exploitation).
Therefore they should be allocated a distinct ISRC.
188.8.131.52 Hidden Tracks
Although currently it is not possible technically to
embed an ISRC into a hidden track on a Compact Disc, it is nevertheless
recommended that an ISRC be assigned.
These are brief tracks that contain music and/or
speaking and are generally put between songs on a pop or urban album.
Found on commercial and promotional product, they sometimes get their own
skip number and sometimes they are attached to the track that follows. If
these can be separately exploited, an ISRC should be
These are excerpts of existing songs; they are used as
the “hook” or the catchy part of a recording and are generally used on pop
promotional product. Ranging from a few seconds to almost a minute, they
given their own skip number. If these can be separately exploited, an ISRC
should be assigned.
When a skit is primarily music or music-related and can
be separately exploited, an ISRC should be assigned.
Assignment of an ISRC depends on whether the Registrant
may separately exploit the work in the future. If the answer is yes, then
an ISRC should be allocated.
Compilations (pot-pourris) When previously released recordings are compiled, ISRCs
shall be used as follows:
- If previously released recordings are used in their entirety and unchanged, the original ISRCs shall be used.
- If previously released recordings are used partially, i.e. faded in or out, a new ISRC should be assigned. The duration of the fade must exceed the recommended threshold of 10 seconds.
4.9.5 Allocation of ISRC to existing recordings
Recordings, which have not been assigned ISRCs, should be provided with an ISRC by the present owner of the rights to such
recordings, prior to a re-release. In these cases, the Registrant Code
will be that of the present owner of the rights.
4.9.6 Restoration of historical recordings
Re-mastering and editing technologies (including
re-pitching, re-equalising, de-noising, de-clicking, etc.) offer many ways
of processing historical recordings in order that they meet contemporary
quality standards. When a full restoration of sound quality is carried
out, the processed recording is to be considered a separate recording and
thus obtain a new ISRC.
4.9.7 Recordings sold, licensed to /or distributed by agents.
The ISRC must be retained irrespective of when or by whom the recording is manufactured, distributed or sold.
4.9.8 Licensed repertoire
ISRC numbers have to originate from the licensor and have to bear the licensor's registrant code.
It is the duty of the licensee to inform the licensor how to obtain a
registrant code if none exists.
4.9.9 Split deals
The entities involved in the split ownership must agree
on which one will be responsible for allocating the single ISRC used to
identify the track. The unique numbering of a recording worldwide must be
Repertoire databases, other users and collecting societies (where applicable) should be notified of the rights
ownership for their given territory. The use of a Registrant Code in
conjunction with a particular Country Code does not indicate rights
ownership in that or any other territory.
When a track is re-mastered for the purpose of
reproduction on a new carrier without restoration of sound quality (also
see Section 4.9.1 Re-mixes/ Edits /
Takes), then no new ISRC is required.
It is nevertheless the Registrant’s responsibility to decide where to draw the
line between sound restoration (full re-mastering) and simple
4.9.11 Classical Repertoire
In classical music, the performers often vary from
movement to movement (for example Handel’s Messiah) and increasingly the
individual movements are being broadcast. To date many such movements are
not identified with separate ISRCs. In some territories the entire piece
of music is identified with one ISRC and then the individual movements are
identified with other ISRCs, which are then linked in the relevant
Because the rights often vary from movement to movement, it is recommended that separate ISRCs be
allocated to each part (e.g. track) of a composite recording as well as an
overall ISRC to the recording as a whole. However, where all of the parts
of the classical piece may be separately exploited, a Registrant may opt
to assign ISRCs solely to the parts of the classical work but not to
assign an ISRC to the entire classical work. Implementations (allocating
an ISRC only to the whole recording) may continue but the above
recommendation should be implemented as soon as possible.
4.9.12 Ring Sounds
If the rights holder needs to unambiguously identify,
clips of digitised audio files, known as ring sounds that are used on
mobile phones it is recommended that an ISRC be allocated to
Provided that the integrity of the system
is not damaged, users are free to use ISRC in other ways. So if the exact
clip used is not regarded as important, the clip might be described as
‘30-second clip from ISRC GB-XX1-02-12345’. If the exact clip is
important, it can be described as ‘0m36s to 1m06s from ISRC
4.10. ISRC Implementation in Software
Where computer software displays an ISRC it should
separate the four elements with hyphens (see Section 3.5.1 General). Unless
the context makes this unnecessary (such as tabular presentation) it
should precede the code with characters ‘ISRC.
Where computer software accepts input from a user, it can helpfully
accept the four elements and present these to the users with their
separating hyphens. Software writers are encouraged to allow the user
definable defaults for the Country Code and Registrant Code elements, to
offer a current year default to the Year of Reference element and to allow
sequential allocating of Designation Codes. Insertion of allocated ISRCs
into a local database may be of considerable assistance to the users.
Automatic registration in appropriate repertoire databases (see Section 4.1.5 Registration in
Repertoire Databases) is also encouraged.
5. Minimum Metadata Requirements
As noted in Section 4.1.5 Registration in Repertoire
Databases to obtain the greatest benefit from the ISRC system,
Registrants should ensure that details of the recording are supplied to an
appropriate repertoire database. The administrators of such databases will
specify their requirements for data to ensure unique identification of
recordings but a minimum set of such data will be specified by the
International ISRC Agency.
This section will be revised in the future to include the specification of this minimum data
6. Data Interchange Standards
Over the last four years there have been a number of
projects looking at developing standards for the exchange of information
about recordings, these have included:
- Music Industry Integrated Identifiers Project (MI3P) – an initiative of IFPI and RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) together with the music rights societies, represented by BIEM and CISAC;
- Moving Pictures Expert Group - MPEG-21 Digital Item Declaration.
- MUSE Digital Media Communication System – a European Commission funded project for the development of standards to aid data interchange between various parties in the value chain.
In the next twelve months, the International ISRC
Agency, in co-operation with users and the National Agencies will continue
to work towards building data interchange standards for repertoire
This section will be revised in the future to include a description of those data interchange standards.
7. National Agency Appointment and Obligations
7.1 Procedure for the Appointment of National Agencies
Since its appointment in 1989 as the International
Registration Authority for the International Standard Recording Code
(ISRC) by ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation), IFPI
Secretariat has appointed 49 national ISRC Agencies.
A complete list of these is available at www.ifpi.org/isrc
The responsibilities of National ISRC Agencies are contained in Section 3.4.2. National
Once an entity has decided that it would like to be appointed as a National ISRC Agency, the following procedure applies:
- The entity wishing to become a National ISRC Agency should apply to the International Registration Authority (IFPI Secretariat), using a standard form (See Appendix Two – Application for appointment of National ISRC Agencies) giving full contact details, a rationale for why it should be appointed and its capability to fulfil the role.
- The International Registration Authority (IFPI Secretariat) will mail a skeleton of the application to other national agencies, and local recording industry members (if the applicant is not their trade association). It will take representations, make appropriate enquiries and recommend acceptance or rejection.
- Once a decision has been made, this will be communicated as above and made public on the IFPI website (www.ifpi.org/isrc /isrc) for a period of 14 days for comments, after which an unopposed decision will become final.
- Substantive objections from an applicant to a provisional rejection or from another party to a provisional acceptance will be referred to an appeal panel consisting of the CEO of IFPI, the Secretary of ISO TC46/SC9 (the standards committee dealing with the ISRC) and an independent expert agreed by the first two members. The appeal panel will take into account local conditions in the relevant territory and the smooth operation of the international ISRC system in making its decision, which will be final.
- Names of successful applicants will be published on the IFPI web site.
7.2 Process for Reporting By National Agencies
According to ISO 3901, National ISRC Agencies are
obliged to report once a year, to the International ISRC Agency (IFPI
Secretariat), on the implementation of the ISRC in their region/territory.
These are to be sent electronically in a standard
In April of each year, the National
ISRC Agencies are to provide the International ISRC Agency with the
following information for all registrant codes they have issued (whether
or not in current use).
| Country Code
|| Registrant Code
|| Audio or Video
|| Registrant Name and Address
|| Department or Person to Contact
|| Date Registrant Code Issued
The data should be supplied preferably in an Excel
spreadsheet (.xls), otherwise a comma separated value file (.csv). Any
other format for data submission must first be approved by the
International ISRC Agency.
At the same time information will also be requested that will form the basis of an Annual
Review, that will be published each June and sent to ISO in accordance
with ISO 3901 and be used for general promotion purposes. The data
required for this publication may change each year, but its purpose is to
foster greater interest and positive participation in the use of ISRC and
to illustrate best practice as well as to highlight initiatives undertaken
to further the implementation of the ISRC system
8. Glossary of Terms
This glossary lists key terms, which are used in a
specific way in this document and within the ISRC System. It will be kept
as concise as possible but will be used to define new terms in away that
avoids duplicate or overlapping definitions.
Definition or synonymous term(s)
||Any entity, including an individual that produces sound and/or music video recordings and is seeking a Registrant Code from an ISRC Agency
||Compact Disc – one digital format that an ISRC can be encoded into.
||Fourth element of the ISRC identifier. Five-digit unique reference used to distinguish each track.
||Informally known as Digital Video Disc or Digital Versatile Disc. An optical disc storage technology and format that an ISRC can be encoded into.
||DVD – Audio. An application format of DVD.
||DVD – Audio Recordable. An application format of DVD.
|| International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) appointed by ISO to oversee the ISRC System globally; performs the role of National Agency in regions or territories where no National Agency exists.
||International Standard Recording Code
||A company or individual that negotiates the use of a sound or music video recording that they do not own the rights to, in order to use it on their own product.
||A company or individual that owns the rights to a sound or music video recording that is licensed to another company or individual that negotiates the use of that sound or music video recording that they do not own the rights to, in order to use it on their own product
||Descriptive information about a sound or music video recording.
||MPEG 1, Layer 3 – a compression format, part of the Moving Picture Expert Group (MPEG) suite of standards, used to store sound recordings
|Music Video Recording
||A short form music video initially produced to support the release of a track
||An organisation appointed by the International Agency to manage the ISRC System within a given territory
||Super Audio Compact Disc – a high quality audio disc format, using similar physical structure to DVD.
||A successful Applicant
||Second element of the ISRC identifier. A three-character alphanumeric reference that identifies the entity issuing the ISRC. The Registrant Code is unique within the issuing Agency.
||It is a company or individual performing any function or role within the ISRC System.
|Year of Reference
||Third element of the ISRC identifier. The last two digits of the current year denoting the year that the ISRC was allocated
Appendix One: List of Agencies
click here for full list of Agencies
Appendix Two – Application for AppointPPLICATION FOR APPOINTMENT OF NATIONAL ISRC AGENCIES
IFPI Secretariat was appointed in 1989 as the International Registration
Authority for the International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) by ISO
(International Organisation for Standardisation), it has appointed 49
national ISRC Agencies. A complete list of these is available at www.ifpi.org/isrc/isrc and in Appendix one: List of
agencies. These appointments are now made under the Procedure for
Appointment of National ISRC Agencies (see Section 7.1 Procedure for the
Appointment of National Agencies).
Potential applicants should read the procedure and complete the
Once completed please return
the form to the International ISRC Registration Authority (IFPI
Secretariat) at firstname.lastname@example.org or fax
+44 (0) 20 7878 6832 marked “National ISRC Agency
Part 1 – Contact
Part 2 – Rationale for
Provide a concise reason why your
organisation should be appointed as the National ISRC Agency for your
Part 3 – Capacity to Fulfil the
Why do you feel that your organisation can
fulfil the role of National ISRC Agency? What will you do to ensure the
full implementation of the ISRC system in your