The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) is an international standard code for uniquely identifying sound recordings and music video recordings. The code is a unique identifier for each specific recording, which can be permanently encoded into a product as its digital fingerprint.
An ISRC code is made up of four parts: the country code (two characters), the registrant code (three characters), the year of the reference (two digits), and the designation code (five digits). For example, the format of an ISRC could be GB-XYZ-21-00001.
ISRC is crucial in the digital era because it enables accurate tracking of recordings for royalty payments by collecting societies. Every time the recording is played on platforms like Spotify or YouTube, the ISRC ensures that plays are tracked so royalties can be correctly distributed to the rights holders.
For example, the studio version of “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen will have a different ISRC than a live recording of the same song. Even different studio versions (like a remastered version) would each have their own unique ISRC.
Please note that the ISRC differs from the International Standard Work Code (ISWC), which identifies musical works (the composition and lyrics) rather than specific recordings of those works.
For more comprehensive information, visit the ISRC page on Wikipedia.