What is an ISRC code?
November 9, 2016
If you're an unsigned or independent artist currently selling your music online, then you will already be using an ISRC code, even if you didn't know you were. Unless you're already clued up on the inner workings of the music biz, you may have only just heard of ISRC codes. So lets explain a few things about them, including:
What is an ISRC code?
The 'International Standard Recording Code' (or ISRC code) is a unique identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. Each ISRC code identifies a specific unique recording and can be permanently encoded into a product as a kind of digital fingerprint. It can then used for sales tracking by the music download and streaming platforms. So whether your music is being played in Skegness or Sweden, it will be instantly recognised, all thanks to your ISRC code.
Is an ISRC code the same as a barcode?
No. ISRCs are for individual tracks/recordings. Barcodes are for the complete product (album/ep/single) that the tracks come together to make.
What does an ISRC code look like?
An ISRC Code follows a standard template and looks like this:
Let’s break that down:
GB is the country (US for United States / IE for Ireland / AU for Australia)
LFP is the unique letters assigned to your record label (at Ditto Music our code is LFP)
16 is the year
12345 is a unique number assigned by the label themselves. Most record labels assign them sequentially so their first recording of 2016 would be GB-LFP-16-00001.
Pretty straightforward so far, right?
How do I get an ISRC code?
You can get an ISRC code from the PPL or similar IFPI organisation when you sign up as a label. Alternatively, Ditto Music will give you ISRC codes for free for every track you release through us - because we are nice like that!
Actually, you should never pay for ISRCs. They are always free, which is why Ditto Music gives you them for no extra cost with every release.
Can't I just make up or generate an ISRC code myself?
No. An international organisation called the IFPI oversee ISRCs with 46 agencies worldwide. Ditto Music is UK-based, so we're label members of PPL and give out free ISRCs with every release.
Stores or upload systems will not accept it your code if it’s not a valid ISRC. To generate your own ISRC you need to be a member of your local IFPI organisation, e.g. PPL. You can join the PPL as a label member and they will give you the 3-character code to generate an ISRC.
Why do I need an ISRC code?
Thinking of skipping the ISRC code? Think again! Digital stores will NOT put any track on sale without an ISRC code – they need it for sales tracking.
Also remember, each individual track needs to have a different ISRC code. It’s the recording not the track that it’s attached to. Same applies to releasing music physically. So if you want to release a single online with a couple of remixes, a live version and a b-side, each track will need its own code.
Is my song chart eligible if it has an ISRC ?
Not unless it’s registered with the PPL/Charts Company – which Ditto can sort for you. The retailer will report the sale to the Chart Company, but if it’s not registered it won’t count.
Ditto Music specialise in digital music distribution and enable thousands of unsigned artists to sell their music in stores like iTunes, Spotify, Amazon and hundreds more. ISRC codes are completely free of charge with your release.
If you have any questions about ISRC codes or online music distribution, let us know in the comments below and we'll get back to you!
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