Frequently Asked Questions regarding ISRC (International Standard Recording Code)

I received some common questions from our readers pertaining to ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) from this post. Here it is:

Question #1: Thank you for the info. I have a question. Do I have to obtain a ISRC CODE somewhere else first, or does this create one for me? Thank you.

Let me help you further understand what is ISRC. Have a look at the code breakdown below:

ISRC chart code breakdown
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Once you apply for an ISRC code, you will become an ISRC agent and will be provided with an “agent code” (see above). An agent code is a unique code block that identifies your recording from the rest of the agents. If you own a recording label, the released recordings have the same agent code if coming from the same owner/label. The Designation Code at the last section of the code is a five digit unique code that uniquely identifies “each” track in your recording portfolio. Let’s have an example:

Supposing the ISRC issuing agency assigns me an agent code of X09. And the issuing body is from US. I will be the one to create the codes for all my recordings. For example If I have six originally released sound recordings:


To formally answer your question: “Do I have to obtain a ISRC CODE somewhere else first”? Yes, you need to apply so that you will have your OWN agent code. You cannot assigned ISRC code to your recordings without an agent code. Then your follow up question: “Does this create one for me”? The answer is also yes, because once you have your own agent code; you will be assigning or creating ISRC code for all your released recordings.

Remember that no recordings should have the same ISRC code. Even if they are the same song. For example, supposing today I mixed and mastered a song entitled “My Song for today”. I assigned an ISRC code to it as: US-X09-11-00001

However 3 years later, I decided to remix the song. It changes the sound properties of the master recording since it has been remixed, therefore a new ISRC code should be assigned, say for example: US-X09-11-00007. Even a remastered version of the song requires a new ISRC code to be assigned. There are also instances where if changes to the master recordings are not substantial, you will not be changing the ISRC code. For example, the track “My Song for today” is originally released in CD audio as WAV (red book audio CD format). But it has been converted to MP3 for digital release, then the ISRC is still the same. The primary reason is that only the format has been changed but the sound recording properties are the same.