The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) is an international standard code for uniquely identifying sound recordings (ISO 3901) and music video recordings.
An ISRC code identifies a particular recording, not the work (composition and lyrical content) itself. Therefore, different recordings, edits, and remixes of the same work should each have their own ISRC code. Works are identified by ISWC codes. Recordings remastered without significant audio-quality changes should not have unique ISRC codes, but the threshold is left to the discretion of the record company.
ISO 3901 was finished in 1986. The Japanese recording industry began encoding ISRCs on audio CDs in November 1989. The IFPI and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) then developed detailed recommendations for this practice, as well as for ISRC assignment in general. The IFPI adopted the recommendations in March 1991, and they went into effect for IFPI members on 1 January 1992.
ISRC codes are always 12 characters long, in the form “CC-XXX-YY-NNNNN”. The hyphens are not part of the ISRC code itself, but codes are often presented that way in print to make them easier to read. The four parts are as follows:
- “CC” is the appropriate two-character country code for the ISRC issuer.
- “XXX” is a three character alphanumeric registrant code of the ISRC issuer.
(This number by itself does NOT uniquely identify the ISRC issuer as the same 3-digit number may be used in various countries for different issuers. To uniquely identify an issuer, the country code and registrant code should be used together.)
- “YY” represent the last two digits of the reference year – the year that the ISRC was assigned to the recording. This is not necessarily the date the recording was made.
- “NNNNN” is a 5-digit number that identifies the particular sound or video recording, unique within the scope of the reference year.
An example, a recording of the song “Enquanto Houver Sol” by the Brazilian group Titãs has been allocated the ISRC code BRBMG0300729:
- BR for Brazil
- BMG for BMG Brazil
- 03 for 2003
- 00729 is the unique id identifying this particular recording