Why You Need The International Standard Recording Code

ISRC enables recordings to be uniquely and permanently identified. ISRC helps to avoid ambiguity and simplifies the management of rights when recordings are used across different formats, distribution channels or products. The ISRC for a recording remains a fixed point of reference when the recording is used across different services, across borders, or under different licensing deals.

When a recording has an ISRC it can be uniquely and easily identified.

This is a first step in being able to manage recordings and associated revenues.

  • Producers of recordings assign ISRCs to their recordings to allow each recording to be clearly, unambiguously distinguished from other recordings across complex value chains
  • Digital distributors use ISRC within their databases and stores, linked to information such as reviews, and for sales reporting
  • Music Licensing Companies use ISRC to identify tracks and to implement track-based distribution and reporting
  • Broadcasters and webcasters use ISRC in their reports of the usage of recordings
  • ISRC may also have a role in certain anti-piracy scenarios

With the transition to digital commerce, the ISRC has become increasingly important, as it can reliably identify recordings when data is exchanged between different proprietary systems.

ISRCs are assigned by owners of recordings.

ISRCs can be assigned by individual artists, by record companies or other third parties known as ISRC Managers under an agreement — you just need a Registrant Code.

You do not need to be a member of the IFPI or a national music industry trade association in order to apply for a Registrant Code and assign ISRCs to your recordings.

Please remember ISRCs are assigned ONCE and remain the same for the lifetime of the recording. Should the rights be sold to a sound or music video recording that has an ISRC assigned, the new rights owner MUST NOT change that ISRC.

ISRC National Agencies

When to assign a code?

Apply for an ISRC code

All applications for ISRC Registrant Codes shall be addressed to the National ISRC Agency relevant to the territory where the applicant is either headquartered, or at the choice of the applicant, in a territory within which the applicant’s operations are based.

See all National Agencies

In cases where the Applicant has neither headquarters or operations in a territory for which there is a National ISRC Agency, applications may be directed to the International ISRC Agency via the process below.

Please use the following application process to direct your request to the International ISRC Agency.

The ISRC standard restricts the assignment of codes to the “original producer or subsequent owner” of a recording (a sound recording or a music video recording).

In some circumstances the producer or right holder may wish to delegate the assignment of ISRC to another party, often an aggregator, distributor, or other specialist having the capability to manage this function efficiently.

Since March 2009 when the rules were simplified, parties other than the rights owners, known as ISRC Managers, can allocate ISRCs on behalf of clients or customers.

These ISRCs are issued as part of the business arrangement between the company and the producer, and they are assigned to only those tracks that are covered by that particular business agreement.

The rationale for authorising ISRC Managers is to improve the quality of data by allowing skilled service providers to develop effective and accurate processes that are then used by their clients.

ISRC Managers need to be specifically appointed in that role. As part of the appointment process, ISRC Managers are issued Registrant Codes that are set aside for the purposes of assigning ISRC to the recordings owned by clients or customers. Normal Registrant Codes issued to registrants for their own recordings must not be used for assigning ISRC to recordings owned by other parties.

National Agencies are not compelled to appoint ISRC Managers, but where they choose to do so, appointments in that role are non-exclusive and registrants remain free to obtain their own Registrant Codes.

ISRC Managers must follow procedures as specified but National ISRC Agencies or by the International ISRC Agency, to ensure that this form of ISRC assignment is properly carried out.

Codes assigned by ISRC Managers last for the lifetime of the recording and MUST NOT be changed if the rights are sold to another party.

If you wish to apply to be appointed as an ISRC Manager, please contact your National Agencies for more details. For territories that do not have a National ISRC Agency, you may download the ISRC Manager Application Form at the link below and submit an application to the International ISRC Agency.

ISRC Manager Application Form (Rev 1 24).pdf

ISRC Manager Application Form (Rev 1 24).docx



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