Disc Wizards

International Standard Recording Codes (ISRC)

What are they, how to acquire them, and how to use them with your songs and recordings

What are ISRC codes?

International Standard Recording Codes (ISRCs) are codes issued to individuals, record labels and other organisations to identify and track their music.

ISRC codes were created by the international recording industry through International Organisation for Standardisation or more commonly known as ISO.

The original ISRC standard has been around since 1986, and was officially approved by ISO in 2001.

Example of an ISRC code

The code has 4 parts to it, for example:


GB – This is the country code of the territory in which the code was issued. In this case GB would mean a code issued in the UK. FR is for France, ES for Spain., so on and so forth.

The next 3 digits identify the individual or company that a code is issued to. This can be a combination of alphanumeric characters.

The next two numbers are used to identify the year of reference. We would use the year in which a recording has been released.

The next five digits are to be assigned to any particular individual recording, known as the designation code. This should always be 5 characters long.

So for example, if this is the first time that ISRC is being used, and the album has 10 songs on it, then the ISRCs will range from GBQS21200001 – GBQS21200010.

If in the same year another album is release, which has say 15 songs on it, then we’d continue the numbering from where we left off, and so the second album will contain the following range of ISRC numbers, GBQS21200011-GBQS21200025.

Regardless of the format in which a recording is released, a single code should be assigned to it, so the ISRC code of any single recording will be the same regardless if it is released on CD, MP3 or digital download.

Encoding ISRC codes into your audio master

For MP3’s the ISRC code should be encoded into the ID3 tags, which allow ISRCs to be encoded.

Most CD burning software’s now allow for the ISRC code to be inserted in when creating or buring an Audio CD.

In Nero, once the audio tracks have been imported in, each track can be double-clicked. A window should open, into which the code can be typed in.

In Toast, the option for ISRC has to be first activated. Go to preferences, audio, and check the advanced audio options. Once you have then imported your tracks into Toast, click on Options, More and then Track, you can then insert the ISRC code in this dialog box.

There is a useful help article on a rather lesser used utility in Macs, which is the terminal window. Using this, we can check a CD actually has the right ISRC codes encoded.

If all the above is a bit too technical, then there is no need to worry, as Disc Wizards can create a master for you with all the correct information encoded into it. Just send us an email or call us to discuss the options.

Applying for ISRC codes

To apply for ISRC codes in the UK, you will need to contact the ISRC UK representative, which is PPL in London. The address, telephone number and email details can be found below.

PPL, 1 Upper James Street, London W1F 9DE

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7534 1331

Point of Contact: Simon Hutchinson

Email: repertoire@ppluk.com

List of ISRC agents in other countries out side UK, click here.

DDP authoring service with ISRC encoding

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