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ISRC Codes:
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know!

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Well, almost!

What's The Deal With ISRC Codes?

If you're an Indie Artist, then you need to 'worry' about ISRC codes!

Here's what the letters stand for:

  • International Standard Recording Code

It's an identification that's used on digital files (like .mp3's) and CD's that will be commercially distributed.

Once a code is embedded onto your track it uniquely identifies that track as belonging to you.

Here's Why They're Important:

  • It makes royalty collection quicker and easier, and radio tracking simpler.
  • They're particularly important for iTunes and other electronic distribution channels.
  • They also prove that you own the recording.
  • They belong to the specific recording of each song.

That last point bears some explanation. It means that:

  • remixes or singles, or even soundtracks that differ in any way from a specific recording, must have a separate code number.

So What Is This Code, Actually?

The ISRC code is basically 12 characters that are made up as follows:

  • Country Code (2 ASCII characters)
  • Owner Code (3 ASCII characters or digits)
  • Year Of Reference (2 digits or ASCII characters)
  • Designation Code (5 digits)

Here are just a few examples of Country Codes:

  • AU – Australia
  • AT - Austria
  • CA - Canada
  • US - United States
  • BR - Brazil
  • GB - UK
  • CN – China

The Owner (or Registrant) Code:

  • To apply for an ISRC Registrant Code, please consult your country or territory’s National ISRC Agency. A list of contacts can found here.

The Year Of Reference:

  • This is just two digits to state what year the recording was released, so 2016 would be 16.

The Designation Code (or Serial Number):

  • The final part would be the Designation Code, this is simply a five digit number that you designate to the track, this works with the year code and your designation code for each track should follow each other. So 00001 would be the first track; 00002 would be the second: and so on, and so on...

Time For An Actual Example:

Here's an example of a code someone would issue from Canada for their first track released in 2016:

ISRC CA-ZYX-16-00001

Note that for visual presentation, I've separated the four parts by hyphens. I've also added the letters ISRC before the code.

The hyphens are, however, not part of the code

  • (BTW, if someone's registrant code - in Canada - is actually 'ZYX' - let me know and I'll replace it in my example with another, hopefully, generic code!!)

You must get your codes before I complete your CD master. And it goes with out saying before getting your CD's replicated!

How You Get Your Codes

If you're in Canada you can get your codes in less than a minute, online, during business days.

For those of in other countries, please check this listing to find your agency.

How Codes Get On Your Master

To encode ISRC codes onto CD, I use WaveLab. This is a superb mastering program for creating a CD master to the red book standard.

This will make your codes visible in any reader capable of interpreting them.

I'll provide you with a PQ sheet which will contain the codes.

It's a very good idea to print off several copies of this sheet.

For several reasons:

  • One for your records.
  • One for the CD manufacturing plant.
  • Radio stations must log in the codes manually.

Want The Whole Story?

This page just covers the main points you need to create your CD master with your codes.

For more detailed information you might like to visit here.

Here's One More Rather Important Tip:

When you get your CD's manufactured, double check with your replicator that they're capable of putting ISRC codes on your copies!

Otherwise, all our work will be wasted!!!

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