What You Need To Know About ISRC Codes

Dealing with and obtaining ISRC codes is an oftentimes confusing task for many artists. Here's a quick post helping demystify the process.

An International Standard Recording Code, or an ISRC, is a unique code assigned to individual recording. Broadcasting businesses use these codes to identify which songs they played and who deserves what royalties. Basically, Having and embedding codes during the mastering process ensures you get paid for your music.

Here's an example ISRC Code: US-M47-14-00001

Each of the four parts of an individual code tell you something about the recording. Here's how the system works:

  1. Country Code - Country where the registrant's home office is (2 letters)
  2. Registrant Code - Unique characters identifying the registrant (3 alphanumerical characters)
  3. Year of Reference - The year in which the code was assigned to the recording (2 digits)
  4. Designation Code - Number assigned to identify an original recording (5 digits)

Applying for codes is a one time fee of $80. Once you're approved, you'll receive your country and registrant code. The year in which you finish and release a will determine the year of reference. You as the artist get to determine the designation code. It's a best practice to label the first track on your first album of any given year "00001", then continue with "00002" etc. If your first album of 2014 has 10 tracks and you end up releasing another later that year, the first track on that album should be "00011".

Code embedding typically takes place at the end of the mastering phase. After I've addressed any sonic issues, polished your tracks, and set the CD spacing, I then grab your ISRC codes and assign them to their respective tracks. When I send you back the final masters, these codes will be permanently embedded into the individual tracks, no matter if they're a WAV, AIFF, or in a DDP Fileset.

You can apply for your own registrant code here. For more in depth look ISRC codes, check this helpful document out.

What other parts of the distribution process are confusing to you? Let me know below.

Michael Curtis

A mastering engineer and composer who loves helping you sound awesome.