Frequently Asked Questions on ISRC

1. What is the ISRC?

The ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is the international identification system for sound recordings and music video recordings. Each ISRC is a unique and permanent identifier for a specific recording which is assigned as its digital fingerprint. ISRCs provide the means to track and identify recordings and are used widely by digital services and retailers. CONNECT Music Licensing acts as the Canadian administrator for ISRC codes on behalf of Music Canada.

2. How do I get an ISRC Code?

Please fill out the ISRC REGISTRANT CODE APPLICATION. Once we receive your application you will be e-mailed your ISRC Registrant Code.

3. Who needs to apply for an ISRC Registrant Code?

The master rights owner of any sound recordings or videos (usually the record label or independent artist).

4. Who is the 'registrant'? Is that my name, the band name, the label?

The registrant is the master owner, usually the record label, band or individual artist.

5. You have assigned a code to me and not my label; shouldn't it be assigned to the label?

The Registrant Code should be assigned to whoever owns the master rights. In some cases that is the individual artist or band, while in others it is the record label. (Check your recording contract if you are signed to a record label and you are unsure).

6. Do I apply for a new ISRC Registrant Code for each new year?

No, each master rights owner is supplied with one ISRC Registrant Code. This is a permanent code for everything released by each master owner. The last 5 digits (the Designation Code) of the ISRC change for each individual track released, and with each new year you change the year of reference, and reset the designation code to 00001.

7. Do I fill out an application form for every new song or album?

No, you only need to apply once. You should use your Registrant Code to create the individual ISRCs for all of the recordings to which you own the master rights. You do not need to submit a list of the individual ISRCs you assign, as CONNECT music licensing does not keep a record of track level codes

The structure of the ISRC is shown in the following example:

ISRC CAPL02100001






Country Code
(2 characters)
Canada = CA

Registrant Code
(3 characters)

Year of Reference
(2 digits)
2021 = 21

Designation Code
This is unique to each individual song (5 digits)


Example for an entire album:

Track Name:

ISRC Number:

Recording #1


Recording #2


Recording #3


Recording #4


Recording #5


Recording #6


Recording #7


Recording #8


Recording #9


Recording #10


Recording #11


Recording #12



8.Who do I register the ISRCs with once I have assigned them?

CONNECT Music Licensing does not require each registrant to provide us with a list of all codes assigned. The registrant is solely responsible for keeping an up-to-date record of the ISRCs that have been assigned to their recordings, and providing them to any agencies that use them (i.e. iTunes, CD Baby, etc).

9. If I have lost track of the ISRCs that I have assigned can CONNECT Music Licensing send me a list?

CONNECT Music Licensing does not keep a list of codes that have been assigned by all registrants. We only keep a record of the Registrant Codes we issue. It is the responsibility of the registrant to always have an up-to-date record of all codes that have been assigned to audio recordings and music videos.

To retrieve your lost or forgotten ISRC Registrant Code, please click here.

However, if you become a member of CONNECT Music Licensing, when submitting your repertoire to us you can include ISRCs. In this case we will have a record of the codes you have assigned. For information on CONNECT Music Licensing membership please click here.

10. When do I assign a new ISRC to a recording?

A new ISRC should only be assigned to an existing recording for the following reasons:

Re-mixes/ Edits / Session Takes:

  • If multiple sound recordings are produced in the same recording session with or without any change in orchestration, arrangement, or artist and if they are preserved or turned into commercial products, each recording shall be encoded with a new ISRC.
  • A new ISRC shall be assigned to each re-mix, edit or new version of a recording.
  • It is recommended that the Registrant associate in its database the ISRC numbers of the original recordings used in the remixing.

Changes in the playing time:

The following rules should be applied in determining whether a new ISRC is to be allocated:

  • A record begins with the first recorded modulation and ends with the last recorded modulation.
  • Deviations in the playing time, resulting from different measuring methods or changes in fade and which have no influence on existing legal rights, should not result in the allocation of a new ISRC.
  • When there is a change of playing time 'musically or artistically', a new ISRC should be allocated. The recommended threshold is 10 seconds.

Special Cases:

A separate ISRC should be assigned to any new (and different) version of a recording, which will be exploited regardless of the nature of this exploitation. For example:

  • 30-second clips: As even 30-second clips need to be licensed, they can be 'separately exploited'. Therefore they should be allocated a distinct ISRC.
  • Hidden Tracks: Although currently it is not possible technically to embed an ISRC into a hidden track on a Compact Disc, it is nevertheless recommended that an ISRC be assigned.
  • Interludes: These are brief tracks that contain music and/or speaking and are generally put between songs on an album. Found on commercial and promotional product, they sometimes get their own skip number and sometimes they are attached to the track that follows. If these can be separately exploited, an ISRC should be assigned.
  • Callouts: These are excerpts of existing songs; they are used as the "hook" or the catchy part of a recording and are generally used on pop promotional product. Ranging from a few seconds to almost a minute, they are given their own skip number. If these can be separately exploited, an ISRC should be assigned.
  • Skits: When a skit is primarily music or music-related and can be separately exploited, an ISRC should be assigned.
  • Interviews: Assignment of an ISRC depends on whether the Registrant may separately exploit the work in the future. If the answer is yes, then an ISRC should be assigned.


When previously released recordings are compiled, ISRCs shall be used as follows:

  • If previously released recordings are used in their entirety and unchanged, the original ISRCs shall be used.
  • If previously released recordings are used partially, i.e. faded in or out, a new ISRC should be assigned. The duration of the fade must exceed the recommended threshold of 10 seconds.

Allocation of ISRC to existing recordings:

Recordings, which have not been assigned ISRCs, should be provided with an ISRC by the present owner of the rights to such recordings, prior to a re-release.

Additionally, the Year of Reference element should reflect the year of allocation of the ISRC. Thus a track that was originally released in 1996 but not assigned an ISRC until 2021 should have a 2021 Year of Reference ("21").

Recordings sold, licensed to /or distributed by agents:

The ISRC must be retained irrespective of when or by whom the recording is manufactured, distributed or sold.

Licensed repertoire:

ISRC numbers have to originate from the master rights owner and have to bear the owner's registrant code. It is the duty of the licensee to inform the owner how to obtain a Registrant Code if none exists. Where the owner is unable or unwilling to assign an ISRC, CONNECT music licensing is able to authorize the licensee to assign an ISRC.

Split deals:

The companies or individuals involved in the split ownership must agree on which one will be responsible for allocating the single ISRC used to identify the track. The unique numbering of a recording worldwide must be ensured.


When a track is re-mastered for the purpose of reproduction on a new carrier without restoration of sound quality, then no new ISRC is required.

It is nevertheless the registrant's responsibility to decide where to draw the line between sound restoration (full re-mastering) and simple re-mastering.

Ring Tunes:

If the rights holder needs to clearly identify, clips of digitized audio files, known as ring tunes that are used on mobile phones it is recommended that an ISRC be assigned to them.

The following is an example of how to name a ring tune (if the exact clip used is not regarded as important) and its ISRC:

Track Name:

ISRC Number:

30 second clip from "song name"


The following is an example of how to name a ring tune (if the exact clip is important) and its ISRC:

Track Name:

ISRC Number:

0m36s to 1m06s from "song name"


11. How long does the whole process take?

Before you receive your ISRC Registrant code you must answer a few yes or no questions and then fill out the application form. Once completed, an ISRC Registrant Code is generated automatically, and you will receive your code right away. The process takes roughly five minutes.

12. What is the cost?

There is no cost. The ISRC Registrant Code is free.

13. Is this a bar code?

No. CONNECT Music Licensing does not issue barcodes and cannot provide you with information on how to obtain them.

14. I made an error in my application. Should I fill out a new one?

No, please do not fill out another application. If you made an error in any part of your application please email all corrections to [email protected]

15. Neither myself, nor my company are based in Canada. Can CONNECT Music Licensing still provide me with an ISRC Registrant Code?

CONNECT Music Licensing cannot provide a Registrant Code for any individual or company that is not based in Canada. Any applicants not residing in Canada must apply for an ISRC Registrant Code from their National ISRC agency in the country that they or their company is based. For a full list of National ISRC Agencies please visit:

16. I am not the master rights owner, but am acting on their behalf; can I still apply for an ISRC Registrant Code?

If you are not the master rights owner please email [email protected] for information and approval on becoming a Third Party Registrant.

For detailed information and procedures for assignment of ISRCs by Third Party Registrants please click here.

Examples of a Third Party Registrant are:

  1. Managers
  2. Producers
  3. Distributors
  4. Digital Download sites (i.e. CD Baby)

17. Is it acceptable that I had a digital distributor such as CD Baby or TuneCore assign ISRCs to my recordings?

It is highly recommended that the master rights owner obtain their own Registrant Code and manage their own ISRCs. It is acceptable however for these companies to assign codes on your behalf, as they have been given permission from the ISRC Agency in their country to do so.

If at a future date you choose to apply for your own Registrant Code, please be aware that once an ISRC has been assigned to an audio recording or video, it stays with that recording forever (please see question #10 for cases in which a new ISRC can be assigned) and only new recordings can be assigned an ISRC using your unique Registrant Code.

18. How and when do I embed my ISRCs into my songs/videos?

At the final stage of audio mastering your mastering engineer will be able to embed the ISRCs you have created into the data of your master CD. Any duplicate you make of the master CD will have the ISRCs included in the CD data.

For electronically distributed formats, the ISRC of each track should be included in the metadata of the song file if possible. Some digital file formats do not allow data to be included, so it is important to always provide ISRCs when uploading audio or video recordings to digital services or retailers. Most will require that an ISRC be submitted for tracking purposes.

The MP3 format allows some rights management information to be included but is not often used. It is possible and recommended to embed ISRCs in the ID3 system of tags. While it is not part of the international standard, it does allow for the encoding of ISRCs.

There is no official way to embed an ISRC into a video, but your video editor should be able to include the ISRC somewhere in the metadata of your video file. As with audio, it is important to keep a detailed record of the ISRCs you assign and to provide a video ISRC to any service, retailer or other organization that requests it from you.

19. What is the IFPI?

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) is the organization that represents the interests of the recording industry worldwide. It is headquartered in London, UK, with regional offices in Brussels, Hong Kong, Miami and Moscow. Its stated mission is to promote the value of recorded music, safeguard the rights of record producers and expand the commercial uses of recorded music. Its services to members include legal policy advice (lobbying), anti-piracy enforcement, litigation and regulatory affairs, market research and communications support.

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