Frequently Asked Questions regarding ISRC (International Standard Recording Code)

Question #2: This is helpful, but what I don’t understand is how do I know for sure that this ISRC is now PERMANENTLY attached to this song if I decide to upload and sell through eJunkie, or elsewhere? How can be sure that SoundExchange etc. will catch it? This is all really confusing, and all I have is one silly song that I want to tag with ISRC forever and move on. Thank you!

You basically asked a very good question which most of the musicians dealing with ISRC are also confused. At first, you need to know that if you are assigning ISRC to a specific master recording you own, it implies that you also own the sound recording copyright of it. In fact, ISRC requires you to assign ISRC code to recordings that you entirely own.

Think of ISRC code as an extension to your copyright registration number. Even Soundexchange and other governing agencies does not know your copyright registration number for your master recordings. You are the only one that knows this. But any of these agencies will know if you tell them that this is the copyright registration number for that specific recording track. Once they know; they will document it for record keeping.

The same concept applies with ISRC code, since you are creator of the sound recording and also the copyright owner. You are also the one that will be assigning ISRC code to every recording you release. Once you finalize the ISRC code, you will be distributing this information to different agencies. There are different ways you can divulge this information:

a.) Embed in MP3 as tags
b.) Write in the CD inlay the ISRC code for your track.
c.) Write in any form they will ask during any registration or application process.

To prevent confusion on the part of the tracking agencies such as SoundExchange, you should be consistent with your released information. Do not duplicate ISRC codes to different recordings or assign different ISRC codes to a same recording.

So to formally answer your question: How do I know for sure that this ISRC is now PERMANENTLY attached to this song if I decide to upload and sell through eJunkie, or elsewhere? The only way to permanently attached:

a.) Be consistent in assigning ISRC for a SPECIFIC RECORDING. If you change it, its not anymore permanent and the tracking agencies will be confused even yourself. Have an official list of your entire master recording catalog with ISRC code assigned. You can do this using a simple spreadsheet software like MS Excel. Also take note that as discussed previously, remixes or remasters needs a different ISRC code.

b.) Embed ISRC codes to ALL COPIES RELEASED FOR SPECIFIC RECORDING. You can read here for details on how to embed and read ISRC codes. So if you sell through eJunkie, make sure that track has an ISRC code on it. If you sell the same track (not a remix or remaster) on iTunes, it should have the same ISRC code as the one distributed in eJunkie. And everywhere where you are planning to release your recordings(e.g. as an audio CD in record stores), it should have consistent ISRC codes on it as ORIGINALLY assigned.

For your second question: How can be sure that SoundExchange etc. will catch it? If you are diligently and consistently embedding codes to all officially released recordings for sale and distribution, SoundExchange will catch it through their tracking monitors which are used by different radio stations and other performing bodies (internet radio, satellite radio, webcasting, etc). These performing bodies are required by SoundExchange to report all performances of master recordings using ISRC code or the name of the label. You can provide ISRC of the official list of ISRC codes for all the master recordings you owned. In fact, they require you to submit your catalog with this information when affiliating with them.

Content last updated on July 14, 2012