• Barcode Ireland Team

ISRC, The International Standard Recording Code

Updated: Oct 19, 2020

A unique, unambiguous and permanent identifier.


The ISRC, International Standard Recording Code, is a unique, 12 character alphanumeric code that is mandatory for the commercial release of a music recording. In fact, all audio media such as audio books, podcasts and musical videos require an ISRC code. Interestingly, ISRC codes are also necessary for archived music and essentially, if there is any artistic input in a new recording of an existing song, a new and unique code will be required.

The ISRC code facilitates the tracking of sales, radio play, physical venue play - such as in clubs or bars and that on online streaming platforms. Importantly, its also used by performance rights agencies to track usage for the purpose of paying performance royalties.

ISRC’s are allocated to a specific recording in perpetuity, even if the rights to the recording are transferred to a new owner, there is only ever one unique ISRC code identifier for every recording released. Should you have four tracks on an EP for example, four unique ISRC codes are required to identify the four individual recordings. 

ISRC codes are encoded into the sound recordings themselves by mastering engineers, record label staff, digital distributors or CD manufacturers. This enables the tracking of where and when music is played as sound systems, broadcasters and streaming services can read the metadata embedded in the recordings.

Such is the importance of ISRC codes in the industry, that retailers and distributors will not remotely consider the distribution of your recording without them.

An ISRC code is made up of 12, alphanumeric characters, split into four sections, which basically identify the recording and rights holder, for example:

ISRC IE ABC 19 00001

Country Code


The first two characters reflect the territory in which the registrant was allocated a Registrant Code. IE for example, represents Ireland.

Registrant code


A unique three character alpha-numeric code which is issued by the Agency, such as ABC. The first two parts of the code combine to create the unique Prefix, IE ABC, that is issued to the registrant.

Year of reference


The next two characters, 19, identify the year in which the specific recording was assigned an ISRC though not necessarily when the recording was made.

Designation Code


The last five characters are the choice of the right holder. These characters are always numbers. The easiest way to organise this section of the code is to give the first recording ‘00001’, the second ‘00002’, and so forth…

The acquisition of IRSC codes is generally the responsibility of the rights holder. To obtain ISRC codes for your music, contact your national ISRC agency or acquire ISRC codes for free when using a digital distributor.

For Ireland, contact Phonographic Performance Ireland (PPI)

63 Patrick Street, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin

Tel: +353 (0)1 280 5977 Email: isrc@ppimusic.ie Website: ppimusic.ie

Should you wish to apply to your ISRC agency to become a registrant (for a small fee) you will be assigned a unique registrant code of three letters, which will allow you to generate ISRC codes as and when needed to release music. The registrant code forms part of every ISRC code generated for your music and is always the three letters directly after the country code in an ISRC.


The first step to tracking your digital, radio and physical plays, sales and royalties, is acquiring an ISRC code, the next, is obtaining a UPC/EAN barcode to track the sales of your CD’s in retail!

Our barcodes work internationally. Should you require barcodes to get your CD's into retail, please visit our Buy page www.barcodeireland.ie/buy, or contact us on info@barcodeireland.ie or through the contact form on our website www.barcodeireland.ie/contact and let Barcode Ireland help your business.

Sources:

https://isrc.ifpi.org/en/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Standard_Recording_Code

https://www.ppluk.com/membership/more-information/isrc/

https://www.music-production-guide.com/isrc-codes.html

https://www.musicgateway.com/blog/how-to/isrc-code-iswc-code-how-do-you-get-one

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