ISRC stands for “International Standard Recording Code.”  


It is a unique code of 12 alphanumeric characters that identifies a specific sound recording. This code is used to track the downloads, streams, or physical copies sold in order to distribute sales and royalty payments to artists, record labels, and music distributors. An ISRC is permanent and will last the lifetime of the sound recording. The code itself consists of four segments: 

  • Country code: Two-letter code representing the country in which an IRSC is applied for.  
    • The current U.S. code is QZ; before 2015, the U.S. code was US or QM. 
  • Registrant code: Three characters that identify the registrant to the National ISRC Agency. It may be alphanumeric. 
  • Year of reference: Two-digit year the ISRC is created, regardless of when the recording was made. 
  • Designation code: Five numeric characters assigned to create a unique code.  


Example ISRC: US-S1Z-99-00001 


There can only be one ISRC assigned to a recording. For example, a shortened radio edit, a remix, and a cover version of TLC’s “No Scrubs” would each need its own ISRC as each recording is unique. However, an exact copy of a recording does not need a unique ISRC – the same copy being streamed thousands of times via a digital service provider has the same ISRC for each copy.   


In the U.S., an independent artist can obtain an ISRC from an ISRC Manager if an ISRC has not been assigned by your record company or music distributor. You can view a list of ISRC Managers at https://www.usisrc.org/managers/index.html or contact your record company or music distributor to determine if an ISRC has been assigned to your recording.