Are you in that happy category of folks that don’t know what an “ISRC” is? Or do you know what it is and it’s driving you crazy? If you’re in the latter group, there is good news for you. SoundExchange and the IFPI have partnered to bring you a searchable database of ISRCs, and here’s why you care.
Starting in the early 1990s, the music industry created a unique track-level identifier called the International Standard Recording Code or “ISRC”. It took a little while for the code to propagate but by the time digital distribution started to get serious around 2000, ISRCs were in wide use mostly embedded in the PQ data of compact discs, although a master list of some kind usually lived in the files of record companies.
The ISRC is the one common identifier that allows the recording to be tracked and associated with other fields such as track name, artist name, repertoire owner (e.g., record company), tax ID or payee information, and of course the corresponding song information. It would have been nice if the mp3 ripping software that became ubiquitous in the late 90s had captured the ISRC from the PQ subcode data in the CD being ripped, but the software was designed to ignore ISRCs so none of the billions of mp3 copies out there can be tracked very easily.
SoundExchange is bringing together the ISRCs from many IFPI member record companies and making that list into a public facing searchable database at the SoundExchange ISRC Search Site. This will make positive identification of sound recordings much easier.