ISRC Code: Why you need one

Image Credit: Promocion Musical

The following blog post will explain to you what an ISRC Code is. So without any further delays let’s dive in.

What does ISRC Code mean?

ISRC is an acronym for International Standard Recording Code– Nothing more, nothing less.

Now that the definition is out of the way, let’s look at why is it so important to have your own ISRC. 


This is basically an identification system for audio and music video recordings.

Before recordings (sound and video) are released commercially they have to be assigned unique codes so they can be identified. And the easiest way to do this is through the use of the ISRC’s.

Why do I need one?

Mastering Engineer: Some mastering engineers assign a Code to each master copy or recording (But you have to supply them with one).

Digital Music Distributors: Distributors will request your ISRC Code in order to track your sales, streams and issue statements.

Broadcasters: They also use ISRC’s for reports in order to easily identify music videos.

ISRC Code South Africa

If you are an artist or record label based in South Africa you can apply for an ISRC Code with the Recording Industry of South Africa.

You don’t have to be a RISA member but you have to fill out an application and submit documents such as your ID Copy and company registration papers.

ISRC Code Example

The ISRC Code is made of four parts (Always):

  1. Country Code: This consists of the first two letters issued by the Agency you applied to. For example, if you based in South Africa, the country code will be ZA. And you have to use the same country code irrespective of where (territory) you release your music.
  2. Registrant Code: This is made of three characters but unique to the registrant, for example, B40.
  3. Year of Reference: The code has to show the last two digits of the year. Instead of 2020, the code would show 20. But this is created by the registrant each time an ISRC is assigned to a song.
  4. Designation Code: This part is also created by the registrant when assigning an ISRC to a new song. The designation should only consist of five numbers (no alphabets) but unique to each song in any given year.    

This is how a complete ISRC looks like based on the explanation above:


National Agencies

If you want to apply for a free ISRC then you should approach your National Agency. You can find a full list of National ISRC Agencies including contacts

3 thoughts on “ISRC Code: Why you need one

    1. Hi Slim

      How did you lose your ISRC Code?

      If previously applied for one, contact RISA, they can retrieve it for you because its already on their system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *