ISRC

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The International Standard Recording Code, abbreviated to ISRC, is a system of codes that identify audio and music video recordings. It is standardized by the IFPI in ISO 3901:2001 and used by IFPI members to assign a unique identifier to every distinct sound recording they release.

An ISRC identifies sound recordings, not the song itself. Instead, songs are identified by International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC) codes. So, different recordings, edits, remixes and remasters of the same song will be assigned their own ISRC. But the same recording should have the same ISRC in all countries/territories.

ISRCs have replaced ISANs (International Standard AudioVisual Numbers) to identify music, audio recordings and music videos because they are more specific. They can also have IPIs attached to it, whereas the ISAN was not designed to be used with IPIs.

Structure

The ISRC is a 12-byte alphanumeric string (only uppercase Latin letters and Arabic numerals, [A-Z0-9]) of the form CCOOOYYSSSSS:

  • CC is a 2-character country code of only letters, as defined in ISO 3166-1
  • OOO is a 3-character owner code of letters and/or digits
  • YY is a 2-character year code of only digits
  • SSSSS is a 5-character serial number of only digits

The country code shows the owner's country of residence. Owner codes are assigned by the IFPI to its members. The year defines the year in which the ISRC was allocated to the recording (although in Japan they usually antedate and set the recording year — other antedated ISRC). The serial number or designation code is assigned by the owner and separates recordings with the same country, year and owner codes.

While hyphens are not part of ISRCs, they are sometimes included so that they can be read more clearly. An example would be CC-OOO-YY-SSSSS.

How does it work?

General information on the allocation of ISRCs for recordings

ISRCs for Tracks on Audio CDs

Determining ISRCs of recordings

On compact discs, ISRC codes can be stored in subchannel Q. Applications like Ahead's Nero and Exact Audio Copy (EAC), using libdiscid, can read these codes. Sometimes, ISRCs are printed on the cover or in the booklet of a release. Some collection societies like SCPP and CISAC will also show ISRCs in their online catalogues, but there is no legal or industry requirement to do that. Some online music stores like mora.jp also distribute music (usually as FLAC files) with ISRC written as metadata.

Resources

Some users have written tools to automatically submit ISRCs from a CD or digital service provider using the MusicBrainz API:

Note: Not all CD/DVD drives can successfully read the ISRCs from the CD.

External resources

Further Information