ISRC is intended for use by producers and users of sound recordings and music videos.

Examples include record labels, as well as by copyright organisations, broadcasting organisations, libraries, licensees etc.

ISRC is normally assigned to recordings by the first owner of the recording. Other parties that need to use ISRCs will usually obtain them from the owners of recordings.

Recording owners assign ISRCs to their recordings, following a simple process. The ISRC system is designed to enable each distinct recording to be identified by a unique ISRC. To allow this, recording owners register to obtain ISRC Registrant Codes, which form the basis of the ISRCs assigned to recordings.

Owners of recordings may for example be independent artists, record labels or recorded music groups. ISRC is available to all owners of recordings regardless of their membership (or not) with any industry association.

For owners of recordings, the three main stages are:

  • 1 Obtain ISRC. In most territories, Registrant Codes are allocated to recording owners by the National ISRC Agency of that territory. Upon request, the National Agency supplies a Country Code and unique Registrant Code to the registrant.

  • 2 Assign ISRC. As described in the ISRC Handbook, the recording owner creates a unique ISRC for each track by appending the allocated Country Code and Registrant Code with a ‘Year of Reference’ and a unique ‘Designation Code’. It is strongly recommended that the registrant maintains good records of assigned codes.

  • 3 Use ISRC. Provide the assigned ISRC data along with other data about recordings.

As part of the process of registering repertoire with MLCs it should be possible to register the ISRCs of recordings. When providing repertoire to digital platforms, directly or via an aggregator, ISRCs should be provided together with recordings and their associated data. Certain release formats permit ISRCs of recordings to be carried alongside the instances of the recordings. Visit our FAQ page for information on ISRC in CD and ID3 tags.

Once assigned, an ISRC remains permanently associated with the recording to which it is assigned, regardless of any changes in ownership or whether the recording falls into the public domain. The ISRC of a recording also remains the same if the recording is used across different countries.