The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) is an international standard code for uniquely identifying sound recordings and music video recordings. This code identifies each individual track on every recording made in order to keep track of things such as royalties and play counts. ISRC codes are widely used to track sales and plays of tracks delivered digitally in a variety of formats.
When you self release an album, you will need to assign codes to each track. This is easy.
First, you register with ISRC as “Recording Rights Owner”. https://www.usisrc.org/ This costs $80, and allows you to assign codes forever.
Once you have your “code prefix”, it’s easy to create ISRC codes for each track.
Just so you understand, the code is 12 characters long. The first 5 characters will always remain the same for you. The next two characters are the two digit year, and the last numbers you assign yourself. For these last 5 digits, starting with 00001 for your first released track of the year and then counting up sequentially is recommended. (But you’re free to do whatever you want!)
Once you have a registrant code, and pick your numbers for each track, send the list of numbers to your Mastering Engineer so they can embed it in the data of your CD.
Keep a record of what numbers you assign, and that’s it!
If you don’t want to do any of this, some production facilities, such as Discmakers, can assign a number for you, so you can always go that route if you like. But, as a content creator/recording rights owner, I think it’s a good idea to have your own registrant code.
Here are some examples:
Example ISRC Code:
Year (two digit year):
Designation code (you pick this number for each track):
Here is a sample set of ISRC codes for a few imaginary albums:
Album #1 (of the year):
Album #2 (of the year):
Album #3 (the next year)