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August, 2010

Adding ISRC Codes to your masters

ISRC
International Sound Recording Code

The ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. Each ISRC is a unique and permanent identifier for a specific recording which can be permanently encoded into a product as its digital fingerprint. Encoded ISRC provide the means to automatically identify recordings for royalty payments.

The ISRC system is the key to royalty collection for recordings in the digital information age. ISRC is a unique, reliable, international identification system. ISRC provides a unique tool for the purpose of rights administration. ISRC is a useful identification tool in the electronic distribution of music. ISRC coding is compatible with standards developed in the field of consumer electronics and is readable by hardware already used in the recording industry.

ISRC is cost effective – it can be put into operation without requiring special investment in equipment or technologies. The ISRC consists of twelve characters representing country (2 characters), registrant (3 characters), year of reference (2 digits) and designation (5 digits). It is divided into four elements separated by hyphens and the letters ISRC should always precede an ISRC code.

ISRC Elements

The elements appear in the following order:

* Country Code: represented by two letters eg (CA) which identifies the country of residence of the registrant at the time the ISRC is allocated.

* Registrant Code: represented by three digits eg (AA2) assigned in sequence from the AVLA database that are unique for each record label/master owner. This code does not change if ownership of the recording changes or if licensed to another repertoire owner.

* Year of Reference: represented by two numbers eg (08) identifies the year in which the ISRC is allocated to the recording which will usually be the year in which the full mastering process for the recording is finalized.

* Designation Code: five digits assigned by the producer/owner as they choose eg (00001).

ISRC Structure

The structure of the ISRC is shown in the following example (final code does not include slashes):

ISRC Structure

ISR CODE STRUCTURE

This is how an ISRC looks

ISRC identifies the country of registration, the organization that registered the code, the year of registration and a selection number identifying the recording. An example: BRBMG0300729. BR=Brazil, BMG=record label, 03=2003, 00729=the recording’s selection number. An ISRC identifies a particular recording, not the song itself. The CD format allocates encoding space for the ISRC for each track. It is applied in the authoring or premastering of the CD’s content before the glass master is prepared. It then is automatically transferred to the glass master during the mastering process. In the United States the ISRC is administrated by the US ISRC Agency https://usisrc.org/ .In Canada the website is: www.avla.ca . A one-time fee is charged to issue the registrant code which is good for life and allows up to 100,000 tracks per year.

The ISRC is used as an identification tool but is not required for a CD to play properly. A common question from customers is “Why don’t my song titles show up on Windows Media Players?” This problem is not related to the ISRC. In order for song titles and/or album cover art to appear on Windows Media Player they must be in the Windows Media Database. This database gets its content from other indexing services such as AMG. Customers can submit their CD to AMG to be added to its database. http://www.allmusic.com/ For more information on the Windows Media Database see: http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/ Another common customer question is “Why doesn’t my song titles show up on my car’s CD player?” In order for this to happen, the “track list” data must be included when the CD is authored or premastered. Most audio editing programs, consumer and professional grade, do this. The track list is added to the “metadata” before burning the master CDR. An inexpensive audio editing program called Sound Forge Audio Studio has this ability. http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/audiostudio By the way, AMG and Sound Forge Audio Studio are used as examples only. There are other alternatives to both.

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