Frequently Asked Questions on ISRC
1. What is the ISRC?
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 is assigned as its digital
fingerprint. ISRCs provide the means to track and identify
recordings and are used widely by digital services and retailers.
CONNECT music licensing acts as the Canadian
administrator for ISRC codes on behalf of Music
2. How do I get an ISRC Code?
Please fill out the ISRC REGISTRANT CODE
APPLICATION. Once we receive your application you will be
e-mailed your ISRC Registrant Code.
3. Who needs to apply for an ISRC Registrant
The master rights owner of any sound recordings or videos
(usually the record label or independent artist).
4. Who is the 'registrant'? Is that my name, the band
name, the label?
The registrant is the master owner, usually the record label,
band or individual artist.
5. You have assigned a code to me and not my label;
shouldn't it be assigned to the label?
The Registrant Code should be assigned to whoever owns the
master rights. In some cases that is the individual artist or band,
while in others it is the record label. (Check your recording
contract if you are signed to a record label and you are
6. Do I apply for a new ISRC Registrant Code for each
No, each master rights owner is supplied with one ISRC
Registrant Code. This is a permanent code for everything released
by each master owner. The last 5 digits (the Designation Code) of
the ISRC change for each individual track released, and with each
new year you change the year of reference, and reset the
designation code to 00001.
7. Do I fill out an application form for every new song
No, you only need to apply once. You should use your Registrant
Code to create the individual ISRCs for all of the recordings to
which you own the master rights. You do not need to submit a list
of the individual ISRCs you assign, as CONNECT music
licensing does not keep a record of track level codes
The structure of the ISRC is shown in the following
Canada = CA
Year of Reference
2015 = 15
This is unique to each individual song (5 digits)
Example for an entire album:
8.Who do I register the ISRCs with once I have assigned
CONNECT music licensing does not require each registrant to
provide us with a list of all codes assigned. The registrant is
solely responsible for keeping an up-to-date record of the ISRCs
that have been assigned to their recordings, and providing them to
any agencies that use them (i.e. iTunes, CD Baby, etc).
9. If I have lost track of the ISRCs that I have
assigned can CONNECT music licensing send me a
CONNECT music licensing does not keep a list of codes that
have been assigned by all registrants. We only keep a record of the
Registrant Codes we issue. It is the responsibility of the
registrant to always have an up-to-date record of all codes that
have been assigned to audio recordings and music videos.
To retrieve your lost or forgotten ISRC Registrant Code, please
However, if you become a member of CONNECT music licensing, when
submitting your repertoire to us you can include ISRCs. In this
case we will have a record of the codes you have assigned. For
information on CONNECT music licensing membership please click
10. When do I assign a new ISRC to a
A new ISRC should only be assigned to an existing recording for
the following reasons:
Re-mixes/ Edits / Session Takes:
- If multiple sound recordings are produced in the same recording
session with or without any change in orchestration, arrangement,
or artist and if they are preserved or turned into commercial
products, each recording shall be encoded with a new ISRC.
- A new ISRC shall be assigned to each re-mix, edit or new
version of a recording.
- It is recommended that the Registrant associate in its database
the ISRC numbers of the original recordings used in the
Changes in the playing time:
The following rules should be applied in determining whether a
new ISRC is to be allocated:
- A record begins with the first recorded modulation and ends
with the last recorded modulation.
- Deviations in the playing time, resulting from different
measuring methods or changes in fade and which have no influence on
existing legal rights, should not result in the allocation of a new
- When there is a change of playing time 'musically or
artistically', a new ISRC should be allocated. The recommended
threshold is 10 seconds.
A separate ISRC should be assigned to any new (and different)
version of a recording, which will be exploited regardless of the
nature of this exploitation. For example:
- 30-second clips: As even 30-second clips need to be
licensed, they can be 'separately exploited'. Therefore they should
be allocated a distinct ISRC.
- Hidden Tracks: Although currently it is not possible
technically to embed an ISRC into a hidden track on a Compact Disc,
it is nevertheless recommended that an ISRC be assigned.
- Interludes: These are brief tracks that contain music
and/or speaking and are generally put between songs on an album.
Found on commercial and promotional product, they sometimes get
their own skip number and sometimes they are attached to the track
that follows. If these can be separately exploited, an ISRC should
- Callouts: These are excerpts of existing songs; they
are used as the "hook" or the catchy part of a recording and are
generally used on pop promotional product. Ranging from a few
seconds to almost a minute, they are given their own skip number.
If these can be separately exploited, an ISRC should be
- Skits: When a skit is primarily music or music-related
and can be separately exploited, an ISRC should be assigned.
- Interviews: Assignment of an ISRC depends on whether
the Registrant may separately exploit the work in the future. If
the answer is yes, then an ISRC should be assigned.
When previously released recordings are compiled, ISRCs shall be
used as follows:
- If previously released recordings are used in their entirety
and unchanged, the original ISRCs shall be used.
- If previously released recordings are used partially, i.e.
faded in or out, a new ISRC should be assigned. The duration of the
fade must exceed the recommended threshold of 10 seconds.
Allocation of ISRC to
Recordings, which have not been
assigned ISRCs, should be provided with an ISRC by the present
owner of the rights to such recordings, prior to a re-release.
Additionally, the Year of Reference
element should reflect the year of allocation of the ISRC. Thus a
track that was originally released in 1996 but not assigned an ISRC
until 2015 should have a 2015 Year of Reference ("15").
Recordings sold, licensed to
/or distributed by agents:
The ISRC must be retained
irrespective of when or by whom the recording is manufactured,
distributed or sold.
ISRC numbers have to originate from
the master rights owner and have to bear the owner's registrant
code. It is the duty of the licensee to inform the owner how to
obtain a Registrant Code if none exists. Where the owner is unable
or unwilling to assign an ISRC, CONNECT music licensing is
able to authorize the licensee to assign an ISRC.
The companies or individuals
involved in the split ownership must agree on which one will be
responsible for allocating the single ISRC used to identify the
track. The unique numbering of a recording worldwide must be
When a track is re-mastered for the
purpose of reproduction on a new carrier without restoration of
sound quality, then no new ISRC is required.
It is nevertheless the registrant's
responsibility to decide where to draw the line between sound
restoration (full re-mastering) and simple re-mastering.
If the rights holder needs to
clearly identify, clips of digitized audio files, known as ring
tunes that are used on mobile phones it is recommended that an ISRC
be assigned to them.
The following is an example of how
to name a ring tune (if the exact clip used is not regarded as
important) and its ISRC:
30 second clip from "song name"
The following is an example of how
to name a ring tune (if the exact clip is important) and its
0m36s to 1m06s from "song name"
11. How long does the whole process take?
Before you receive your ISRC Registrant code you must answer a
few yes or no questions and then fill out the application form.
Once completed, an ISRC Registrant Code is generated automatically,
and you will receive your code right away. The process takes
roughly five minutes.
12. What is the cost?
There is no cost. The ISRC Registrant Code is free.
13. Is this a bar code?
No. CONNECT music licensing does not issue barcodes and
cannot provide you with information on how to obtain them.
14. I made an error in my application. Should I fill out
a new one?
No, please do not fill out another application. If you made an
error in any part of your application please email all corrections
15. Neither myself, nor my company are based in Canada.
Can CONNECT music licensing still provide me with an ISRC
CONNECT music licensing cannot provide a Registrant Code
for any individual or company that is not based in Canada. Any
applicants not residing in Canada must apply for an ISRC Registrant
Code from their National ISRC agency in the country that they or
their company is based. For a full list of National ISRC Agencies
please visit: http://www.ifpi.org/content/section_resources/isrc_agencies.html
16. I am not the master rights owner, but am acting on
their behalf; can I still apply for an ISRC Registrant
If you are not the master rights owner please email
email@example.com for information and approval on becoming a Third
For detailed information and procedures for assignment of ISRCs
by Third Party Registrants please click
Examples of a Third Party Registrant are:
- Digital Download sites (i.e. CD Baby)
17. Is it acceptable that I had a digital distributor
such as CD Baby or TuneCore assign ISRCs to my
It is highly recommended that the master rights owner obtain
their own Registrant Code and manage their own ISRCs. It is
acceptable however for these companies to assign codes on your
behalf, as they have been given permission from the ISRC Agency in
their country to do so.
If at a future date you choose to apply for your own Registrant
Code, please be aware that once an ISRC has been assigned to an
audio recording or video, it stays with that recording forever
(please see question #10 for cases in which a new ISRC can be
assigned) and only new recordings can be assigned an ISRC using
your unique Registrant Code.
18. How and when do I embed my ISRCs into my
At the final stage of audio mastering your mastering engineer
will be able to embed the ISRCs you have created into the data of
your master CD. Any duplicate you make of the master CD will have
the ISRCs included in the CD data.
For electronically distributed formats, the ISRC of each track
should be included in the metadata of the song file if possible.
Some digital file formats do not allow data to be included, so it
is important to always provide ISRCs when uploading audio or video
recordings to digital services or retailers. Most will require that
an ISRC be submitted for tracking purposes.
The MP3 format allows some rights management information to be
included but is not often used. It is possible and recommended to
embed ISRCs in the ID3 system of tags. While it is not part of the
international standard, it does allow for the encoding of
There is no official way to embed an ISRC into a video, but your
video editor should be able to include the ISRC somewhere in the
metadata of your video file. As with audio, it is important to keep
a detailed record of the ISRCs you assign and to provide a video
ISRC to any service, retailer or other organization that requests
it from you.
19. What is the IFPI?
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)
is the organization that represents the interests of the recording
industry worldwide. It is headquartered in London, UK, with
regional offices in Brussels, Hong Kong, Miami and Moscow. Its
stated mission is to promote the value of recorded music, safeguard
the rights of record producers and expand the commercial uses of
recorded music. Its services to members include legal policy advice
(lobbying), anti-piracy enforcement, litigation and regulatory
affairs, market research and communications support.