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The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) is an international standard code for uniquely identifying sound recordings and music video recordings. The code was developed by the recording industry in conjunction with the ISO technical committee 46, subcommittee 9 (TC 46/SC 9), which codified the standard as ISO 3901 in 1986, and updated it in 2001.
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.
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ISO 3901 was finished in 1986. In 1988, the IFPI recommended that its member companies adopt ISRCs for music videos. In 1989, the ISO designated the IFPI as the registration authority for ISRCs. The IFPI, in turn, delegated part of the administration of ISRCs to several dozen national agencies, which allocate ISRCs to both record companies and individuals. The national agencies began assigning ISRC codes for music videos in August 1989.
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:
The Red Book standard recommends the encoding of ISRCs onto CDs.
ISRC codes cannot be obtained directly from IFPI. The issuance of ISRCs is overseen country-specific agencies appointed by IFPI. These country agencies may issue codes directly to the public or may utilize authorized ISRC Managers to issue ISRCs. In the United States, the appointed agency is RIAA. ISRC codes can be obtained directly from RIAA for an administrative fee ($80 at time of this publication) or from an ISRC Manager such as ISRCmusicCodes.com.