1. How do I apply for an ISRC?

Contact the ISRC Agency for your territory. An up to date, alphabetical list of ISRC Agencies is available on the ISRC Agency Contact page. If there is no ISRC Agency in your territory, you can obtain an ISRC from the International ISRC Registration Authority.

2. Do I/our company have to be a member of IFPI or a music industry trade association in order obtain an ISRC?

No. The ISRC System is constructed so that any entity creating sound or music video recordings can assign ISRCs to their recordings regardless of their membership of, or standing with, industry associations and other bodies.

3. How is an ISRC code constructed?

The ISRC is made up of three elements: Prefix Code, Year of Reference and Designation Code. For more details see the syntax description in the ISRC Handbook [at Section 3.3.1].

4. I have only been allocated five characters out of twelve — how do I get my complete ISRC?

The five characters you have been allocated are your unique Prefix Code. To generate individual ISRCs per recording, you will need to add a two digit Year of Reference element to the Prefix, followed by a unique five digit Designation Code.
- The Year of Reference is the last two digits of the year in which the ISRC is assigned.
- The Designation Code is a set of five digits generated by you, usually in sequence beginning from number 00001 and unique to you within each Year of Reference. See full syntax description in the ISRC Handbook at Section 3.3.1

5. I would like to select my own characters to use as a Prefix Code. Is this possible?

No. Prefix Codes are allocated to applicants by ISRC Agencies on a strictly sequential basis. There is no facility for selecting particular characters within Prefix Codes, or selecting whole Prefix Codes.

6. Our company has just acquired the rights to a recording that already has an ISRC. Do we have to assign a new ISRC to this recording?

No. Once an ISRC has been assigned to a track the ISRC should remain the same for the lifespan of the track. This is the case even if the ownership of the track changes.
For more information see ISRC Handbook Section 4.6.

7. What sorts of changes to an existing recording that already has an ISRC require a new ISRC?

These are some of the modifications to a recording that would require the assignment of a new ISRC:
• Restoration of historical recordings, where creative changes are involved
• Changes in playing time which exceed 10 seconds
• Remixes/edits
More detailed information can be found in the ISRC Handbook at Annex A.6 onwards.

8. I am remastering some of our company’s catalogue recordings. Can we use the same ISRC for the new remastered version?

Yes, generally this is appropriate as the remaster is fundamentally the same recording as the original. Only in the event that the remastering process involves significant new creative input to the resulting remastered recording can it be appropriate to assign a new ISRC to the remaster.

9. I am the licensee of a recording which has been released before but without an ISRC. Can I assign a new ISRC?

If a recording did not have an ISRC originally, has changed ownership, and is being released unchanged by the current rights holder, a new ISRC should be assigned. The Prefix Code should be that of the current rights holder, or that of the licensee if authorised by the right holder. The Year of Reference should be the year of assignment of the ISRC (not the year the recording was made).

10. If a recording has been released without an ISRC, can it be assigned one retroactively?

Yes. A recording which has not been assigned an ISRC should be provided with one before it is re-released. If the recording has changed ownership, and did not have an ISRC originally 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).

11. Our company issues both sound and music video recordings. Do both types of recording get a separate ISRC?

Yes. A sound recording and a music video recording are different recordings, even if the audio component in the video is the same as the sound recording. Because they are different recordings, the music video and sound recording must be assigned different unique ISRCs.
More detailed information can be found in the ISRC Handbook at Section 3.1.

12. My company produces sound recordings and music videos. Can I use the same Prefix Code for assigning ISRC codes to sound recordings and music videos?

Yes. You should use the same Prefix Code to assign ISRCs to sound recordings and music videos. As part of the metadata which you store alongside each assigned, you should store the type of recording as being a sound recording or music video recording.

13. I am producing an audio-visual work. Can I use ISRC to identify it?

No. ISRC is not for identifying audio-visual works. It is for identifying sound recordings and music video recordings. The only exception to this would be short excerpts such as interviews contained within a music concert recording, which may be assigned ISRC for consistency with other elements in the overall recorded content. In general, audio-visual works are identified by ISAN [ISAN (International Standard Audiovisual Number)] and EIDR | EIDR – A universal unique identifier for movie and television assets).

14. I assigned ISRC to a recording I thought I was going to release, but I am not going to release it now. Can I use the same ISRC to identify a different recording?

No. Once assigned, an ISRC must not be re-used under any circumstances. More detailed information is available in the ISRC Handbook at Section 4.1.3

15. How do I embed an ISRC code in a video file?

It is possible to embed ISRC into a video file format which supports ID3 tags, such as MP4. Tag editing tools exist which can be used to insert ISRC into the ID3 tag field of a recording or batch of recordings (eg: Kid3 - Audio Tagger (kde.org))

16. How do I embed an ISRC code in a YouTube video?

The method of providing ISRCs to YouTube together with video content depends on how you access YouTube.

The MP4 video format allows ISRC to be embedded in the video file. This facilitates dissemination of ISRC together with the video, including when uploaded to YouTube. This method may be appropriate for individuals uploading to YouTube via YouTube Studio, where there is currently no method of supplying ISRC in the metadata panes provided with YouTube Studio.

If you are a YouTube Music Partner you will have been provided with tools to provide ISRC and other data to YouTube.. More information is available from YouTube on their website

If you are uploading directly to YouTube with a DDEX feed, ISRC should be provided as part of the DDEX data.

If you are uploading to YouTube through a third party service provider (i.e. a music aggregator or distribution service) please check with your service provider as to the status of providing ISRCs of your recordings to YouTube. Most providers can deliver ISRCs assigned by right holders, and/or they can assign ISRC on behalf of right holders and supply them in their feeds to YouTube.

17. How do I encode an ISRC onto a CD?

Compact Disc
In the case of Compact Discs the ISRCs and other PQ-data are encoded in the disc subcode (Q channel) in the disc mastering process. For this reason, ISRCs must be encoded for each track in the Pre-Master for CD. The ISRCs together with the Digital Copy Prohibited flag (if appropriate), and the relevant point of sale code (e.g. EAN/UPC) should be inserted on the Pre-Master during the pre-mastering process from the original Master.

Electronically Distributed Music
Most formats for electronically distributed music allow the inclusion of an ISRC, which can be inserted by authoring software. Where electronically 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. It is therefore recommended that an ISRC be encoded into the ID3 tag.

For more information see ISRC Handbook Section 4.9.

18. Can ISRCs be applied to promotional material?

Yes, ISRCs can be applied to promotional material such as 30-second clips and hidden tracks particularly if at any time in the future the asset may be separately exploited – this does not necessarily imply monetary value. More detailed information is available in the ISRC Handbook at Sections 4.1.2 and 4.6

19. How are Classical recordings identified using ISRC?

Classical music often comprises parts such as movements or arias which are separately exploited. It is generally appropriate to identify with distinct ISRCs each part which can be separately exploited, A further distinct ISRC should be used to identify the overall recording. More detailed information is available in the ISRC Handbook at Annex A.14.

20. Can ISRC be used to identify a ring tone?

Yes. Ring sounds are short audio recordings, and can be assigned an ISRC. More detailed information is available in the ISRC Handbook at Annex A.9.11

21. Can ISRC be used to identify musical works, such as MIDI files or sheet music?

No. ISRC only applies to sound recordings. Compositions and music works are identified by ISWC (see What is the difference between ISRC and ISWC?).

22. I have searched the international ISRC database but cannot find the recording I am looking for. Why is this?

The international ISRC database is one of a number of searchable locations for ISRC. It is provided to the music industry by Soundexchange. The international ISRC database references repertoire data submitted to Soundexchange and is updated on a daily basis. If the recording you are searching for does not appear, it may be because the Soundexchange database has not completed its daily update, or the repertoire has not been submitted to Soundexchange.

Other search facilities exist, such as those hosted by SCPP in France, and PPL in the UK

23. What is the origin of ISRC?

ISRC is the International Sound Recording Code. ISRC is used to identify sound recordings and music videos. ISWC is the International Standard Musical Work Code. ISWC is used to identify musical works (compositions).

ISWC is maintained for ISO by the ISWC International Agency and identifies musical compositions produced by composers and authors. The ISWC International Agency is operated by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers CISAC
CISAC offers online access to ISWC data via the ISWCnet search.

25. I am releasing a music product with multiple recordings. Can I assign an ISRC to the product as well as the recordings included on the product?

No. ISRC is only assigned to identify recording. It does not identify the product into which the product is embedded or carried, regardless of whether this is a CD or digital file. Music products require their own identifiers, which allow management of aspects such as price, tracking within supply chains and distinguishing between different formats or encodings. ISRC identifies the recording regardless of supply chain, price or format.

Music products are generally identified by UPC/EAN barcodes for physical and digital releases. UPC/EAN codes may be required by collective rights management organisations as part of the repertoire registration process. Each different product requires its own UPC/EAN code. More information is available here

If you have not been able to find the answer to your query, please contact the International ISRC Registration Authority at isrc@ifpi.org.