Ever wonder how singles and albums end up on the Billboard charts? Aside from exceptional talent, having a great record to sell and a killer marketing plan, the ranks of the chart are all the work of ISRCs. International Standard Recording Codes (ISRC) are 12-digit alphanumeric codes that function as an internationally recognized system to identify recorded music tracks and music videos.
ISRCs are used primarily to identify and catalog individual songs on an album and ensure purchases and streams are tracked properly across digital/physical retail and streaming platforms.
What’s the difference between ISRC and UPC?
In short, a UPC number is product number assigned to an album, while ISRCs are assigned to each individual track.
Breaking Down The Letters and Numbers.
An ISRC looks like this: CA XYZ 14 00001 – jiberish, right?
Let’s break it down…There are 4 parts to it.
CA – is the registered country code. In this case the country is Canada.
XYZ – is a three character alphanumeric registrant code of the ISRC issuer.
14 – represents the last two digits of the reference year. In this case the year is 2014.
00001 – is a 5 digit number that identifies the particular sound recording or video recording within the reference year.
So, How do you get an ISRC?
There are probably a variety of ways to get ISRCs assigned to your tracks but I recommend one of two ways, or using a combination of the two.
1.) Visit this list of National ISRC agencies and contact your countries agency (http://isrc.ifpi.org/contact/national-agency-contacts)
2.) Or sign up with a digital distributor, who will automatically generate ISRC codes. I recommend Tunecore (http://www.tunecore.com/).