ISRC and ISWC: An Explanation for Music Lovers

An important aspect of the music industry is the unique identification of musical works and recordings.

Learn more about the difference between ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) and ISWC (International Standard Musical Work Code) and their importance to the music industry in this blog post.

ISRC (International Standard Recording Code):

The ISRC is a unique code specifically assigned to each sound recording. This code is used to track copyright information and sales data, especially in the digital age. Each version of a piece of music, be it a studio recording, a remix or a live recording, is assigned a unique ISRC. The code consists of a country code, a registrant code, a year of recording and a serial number for the work. The ISRC is assigned by national ISRC agencies authorised by the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry). These agencies are responsible for registering and managing the codes in their territory. ISRCs allow recordings to be uniquely identified worldwide, which is useful for tracking royalties, sales statistics and radio playlists.

ISWC (International Standard Musical Work Code):

Unlike the ISRC, the ISWC identifies the musical work itself, not the recording. The ISWC code is assigned to a piece of music and remains the same regardless of different recordings or interpretations. It is used to track the rights to a particular musical work and to ensure the correct allocation of copyright and royalties.
The ISWC code consists of a prefix indicating the year of registration, followed by a separator and a unique number for the work.

Like the ISRC, the ISWC is issued by national agencies authorised by CISAC (Confédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Auteurs et Compositeurs).
The ISWC makes it possible to clearly identify the same piece of music, be it a song, a symphony or an instrumental piece, in different versions and recordings. This is particularly important to ensure that authors are properly remunerated for the use of their works and that the utilization of music is properly managed.

In summary, the ISRC is a code for identifying sound recordings, while the ISWC is a code for musical works. The ISRC allows for the unique identification of recordings of different versions of the same
musical work, while the ISWC ensures the attribution of copyright and royalties for the musical work.

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