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ISRC Codes

If you are going to sell your music, you need ISRC codes. Get your ISRC codes before mastering – the engineer will encode the disc.

It stands for International Standard Recognition Codes. These codes are used by broadcasters (radio stations and TV company’s) to automatically log which tracks have been played and for how long, this simplifies the process of calculating royalty payments.

These codes must be inserted onto your master before submitting to the factory. Register early so you have your codes before you finish your recording.

This is a permanent and unique electronic ID code for EACH TRACK.

This is NOT the barcode from the CD, but you can think of it as a barcode for each track. It is tied to the track, and remains attached, even if the track is extracted from the original medium. In addition, the ISRC remains connected to that track regardless of changes in ownership. It is key for royalty collection, administration, and anti-piracy.

Applying for an ISRC code:

You only need to get this code once – it can be applied to all your releases.

Visit for an application. You will be issued with a 3 character Alpha Numeric code that is your REGISTRANT CODE, this will be something like PU3, this is your and yours only.

The company (registrant) code costs $80 (as of 2013), but this is good for an unlimited number of tracks.

Radio stations with automated play systems extract the ISRC codes from the tracks played to produce an royalties report. So having an ISRC code is essential for radio play.

If you are mastering to exabyte or you just cannot add the codes to the CD-R master for some reason, the factory can usually encode them if you provide them with a log sheet and instructions to add ISRC codes.

Assigning ISRC Track Codes

Once you receive your Registrant’s Code from the RIAA, you will assign the track code. It’s your responsibility to keep track of your track code assignments.

The full ISRC code is made up of 12 letters and numbers, the first part of the code is identifying the country of origin (it used to be US, but now seems to be QM, so use whatever they assign you). The next part is for the year, this is a 2 digit number, so for 2010 the number “10”, for 2011 the number is “11”, still with me? The final 5 digits are numbers and are for you to choose, most people start with 1 and work up from there.

The only rule is that every track code is unique in any one year. One approach is to use a sequential numbering scheme.


The next year you can either continue the sequence, or restart it, since your year code will be different.

You can also assign ISRCs to music videos. When specifying a sound recording or an audiovisual recording, the RIAA recommends assigning video ISRCs with a track code that starts with a “9” (US-Z9A-05-90001).

If you re-release or license a track, you will keep the ISRC that you originally assigned. A different recording of the same tune, for example, a live version or different recording session, would be considered a new track and you would assign a different ISRC. The site at has a lot of good information.

Can I assign codes to tracks already released?

Recordings which have not been assigned an ISRC, can be provided with one when it is re-released. If the recording has changed ownership and is being released (unchanged) by the new rights holder, the Registrant Code should be that of the new owner. The Year of Reference should be the year of allocation of the new ISRC.

Adding ISRC Codes at the factory

The factory can add your ISRC codes to your master after the fact for a one-time fee.

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