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ISRC (International Standard Recording Code)

What is the ISRC?

The ISRC is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video-recordings. Each ISRC is a unique and permanent identifier for a specific recording, which can be permanently encoded into a product as its digital fingerprint. Encoded ISRCs provide the means to automatically identify recordings for royalty payments.

The number consists of four elements. It should appear on the item with hyphens separating the elements and 'ISRC' preceding the number.

GB ISO Country code (GB = UK, US = USA, DE = Germany Registrant Code, a three alpha-numeric unique reference
03 Year of Reference, the last two digits of the current year (e.g. '03' for 2003)
00013 Designation Code, a five digit unique number, e.g. '00013'

E.g. ISRC : GB-xxx-xx-xxxxx

Notes on use

An ISRC, once allocated, must not be re-used under any circumstances to avoid confusion.

A new ISRC is allocated for an existing recording when:

  • It undergoes restoration (historical recordings)
  • There are changes in playing time
  • It is remixed / edited
  • When a compilation is created

ISRCs can be issued retroactively for recordings issued before ISRCs were available.

In classical music, the performers may vary from movement to movement (e.g. Handel's 'Messiah') and the rights will then be different for each movement. In these cases, ISRC recommends that separate ISRCs are allocated for each movement.

ISRC Agencies

ISRCs are allocated by National ISRC Agencies, and for those countries without a national agency, the International ISRC Agency.

Recording an ISRC in MARC 21

ISRCs should be recorded in field 024.0 ISRC

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Content by: Ann Chapman of UKOLN.
Page last revised on: 11-Mar-2010
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