Get Funding & Stay in Control

Get an Estimate

What Is An ISRC Code And Why Do You Need One?

What Is An ISRC Code And Why Do You Need One?

Whether you’re an emerging artist or an established musician or producer, you might already be aware of what ISRC codes are and how they’re used. That’s because you’re probably already using them without even knowing it. If you’re naturally curious and passionate about the mechanisms and dark secrets, if you will, of the music business, you’ll be familiar with the concept. However, if you’re just starting out in the music industry, and you’ve been hearing the term being thrown around, here’s what you should know. 

What is an ISRC code?

IRSC stands for the International Standard Recording Code, which is a unique identification number permanently encoded into sound or video recordings. Think of it as an IMEI code that you have for a smartphone, or something similar to that. The code allows you to track sales for a specific song or music video that’s downloaded or streamed online, no matter where you are. ISRC codes are used globally, so it doesn’t matter where your location is: if you’re a U.S.-based artist, you’ll be able to track sales for songs that your fans download or stream in Denmark, Germany, Australia, or anywhere else for that matter. 

[banner bold_title="Get an Advance" title="without losing creative control" cta_title="Get Funded Now" cta_url=""][/banner]

How do ISRC codes work?

ISRC codes are used to identify specific recordings of a song, not the musical composition or lyrics. That’s why a remix, instrumental version, radio version, and any other variations will have their own unique ISRC code, even if they’re in fact based on the same musical composition. Remastered versions of a song also get assigned a new ISRC code, to differentiate them from the original version. 

An ISRC code looks something like this: ‘CC-XXX-YY-NNNNN.’ 

  • The ‘CC’ part represents the two-digit country code for the ISRC issues, for example GB for Great Britain. For the U.S., high demand has led to variations such as QM, CP, or DG. 
  • The ‘XXX’ part represents the alphanumeric registrant code of the ISRC issuer, but it works together with the country code, as the same XXX number can be used in different countries for different issuers. 
  • The ‘YY’ part represents the year when the ISRC code was issued - regardless of when the recording was first created. 
  • Finally, the ‘NNNNN’ part is a five-digit number that identifies the sound or video recording, and it is unique within the scope of the year of the ISRC assignment. 

How can I get an ISRC code for my music?

If you’re thinking you might just be able to create an ISRC code for your recordings on your own, know that it’s not possible. Only the IFPI international organization can assign ISRC codes, and it’s the authority on the matter worldwide. To upload your music to an online store or platform, you will need an ISRC code, and a valid one. In order to get one, you’ll need to register as a member of your local IFPI agency, like the U.S. office of the ISRC, and they will give you access to a tool to generate your ISRCs. It’s not as complicated as it might sound, and the good news is that ISRC codes are free! 

To obtain an ISRC code for your music as an artist based in the U.S., all you need to do is head over to and get your registrant code. This code will enable you to assign up to 100,000 ISRC codes within a year, for your own work or for the works of a client you represent, in case you’re a distributor. The registration comes with a one-time fee of $95, and the ISRC codes you generate are free of charge. Usually, music distributors and record labels will handle the matter of ISRC registration on behalf of their clients, as negotiated in their individual contract. But if you want to go the independent artist route, and do everything yourself, you’ll need to register as an individual with the USISRC. 

[banner bold_title="Copyright Your Music" title="And keep your work protected" cta_title="Copyright Your Music" cta_url=""][/banner]

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need an ISRC code?

An ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is essential for tracking and identifying individual sound recordings. It provides a unique identifier for each recording, facilitating efficient royalty collection, copyright protection, and accurate tracking of usage across various platforms and media. Without an ISRC code, it becomes challenging to monitor the performance and distribution of your music, potentially resulting in missed revenue opportunities and difficulty in asserting ownership rights over your creative work. Therefore, obtaining an ISRC code is crucial for any musician or content creator looking to establish a presence in the music industry and ensure proper recognition and compensation for their work.

How much does it cost to get an ISRC code?

The cost of obtaining an ISRC code can vary depending on the country and the organization through which you acquire it. In some regions, like the United States, you can obtain ISRC codes for free through organizations such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) or directly from the ISRC Agency. However, some digital distribution platforms may charge a fee for assigning ISRC codes as part of their service packages. Overall, the cost of obtaining an ISRC code can range from free to a nominal fee, but it's crucial to research the options available in your region to find the most cost-effective solution for your needs.

How does ISRC work for covers? 

When it comes to covers, ISRC codes are typically assigned to the specific recording of the cover song rather than to the underlying composition itself, which may already have its own ISRC code associated with the original recording. This means that each unique recording of a cover song, whether it's by the original artist or another performer, would have its own distinct ISRC code to track its usage and royalties separately. This ensures that royalties are accurately distributed to the appropriate rights holders, whether it be the original songwriter or the performer of the cover version, based on the usage and performance of each specific recording.

Join Xposure Music and gain access to some of the best music industry professionals in the U.S. Top experts from Sony, Columbia, Def Jam, or Universal have already joined our platform, and they’re ready to give invaluable, on-point feedback on your work, which can help you land that dream record deal or publishing deal you’ve been working towards. Sign up now and reap the rewards.

If you’re looking to kickstart your music career but have limited resources, we can help you get funding for your next project while staying in control of your own work and career trajectory. You keep 100% ownership of your masters and get an advance ranging from $1,000 to $3 million to get your career off the ground. Get an estimate now and start turning your dream into reality.

No items found.


Gregory Walfish
Co-founder of Xposure Music, Gregory Walfish stands at the intersection of music, tech, and culture. With a software engineering background, he's passionate about artist development and technology.

Music Business

Xposure Blog Topics