Introducing Audio AI
Auto-tagging and similarity-based searches at your fingertips. Learn more
Music Industry Codes: ISRC and ISWC 

Music Industry Codes: ISRC and ISWC 

Did you ever wonder about how artists get paid for things like streams, radio plays, and podcasts? Music industry codes allow streaming platforms, distributors and artists, and their teams to track plays and collect royalties.

These codes are an indispensable tool, and knowing how to properly use them will help you to make sure you are getting paid all of the royalties that you are due. Let’s begin with the code that follows each recording.

International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)

As a music pro, whether you be a record label head, artist, or publisher, you likely deal in recordings.

A lot of people have a bit of confusion differentiating between a song, a performance, and a recording, so it helps to attach the ideas to objects. A recording of a song, is the WAV file, the CD, the vinyl, and all versions of a replayable format. 

A creative work, on the other hand, is attached to the idea. Not all music is written down, but it can be helpful to think of the creative works as the paper that the idea was written on. That’s why we have 2 codes. 

The ISRC code follows the recording and ensures that royalties related to the recording copyright are paid out. These include mechanical and performance royalties, streaming royalties, and more. Mechanical royalties are paid whenever a copy of the song is sold. Performance royalties are paid whenever a song is performed or played in public - in a bar, a concert, etc. 

These are collected and dispensed by Performance Rights Organizations (PROs), which deliver them to those who are entitled. Depending on contracts and royalty splits, this typically belongs to artists (if they are the ones performing on the recording), producers, publishers, and performers.

That’s a lot of information for a little 12 digit code, but it accomplishes all of that.

International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC)

As we mentioned, the ISRC tracks the royalties associated with the recording - but what if it’s a cover song or a new recording of classical music? That’s where the ISWC comes in. This is the code that is responsible for ensuring that the royalties attached to the original idea find their rightful owners or those who’ve inherited the rights.

The ISWC is the code that tracks and follows compositional royalties and ensures that the original songwriters or holders of those rights are paid out.

These are the royalties that are related to intellectual copyright - affectionately referred to as ‘mailbox money’ in the industry. Of course, publishers usually take some of the composition royalties, as well, so it’s not only for the original creator who benefits from the ISWC number.

This means, if an artist is writing and performing their own music, and selling recordings, they can collect from both codes. In fact, it’s extremely important that they include both codes with each release, or they can lose out on money that belongs to them! With that being said, it is also helpful to use a tool like Reprtoir to track your codes, which comes with some surprisingly useful perks.

How Does Reprtoir Help With Industry Codes?

Using our Metadata Enrichment feature with your ISRC will make sure you collect all of the data you need to stay sharp, alongside the royalties you are due.

This is a great tool for optimizing your whole catalog, as metadata changes with trends and more connections are able to be made. This can help increase your discoverability, and maximize the usefulness of your ISRC, by gathering data associated with your music and using it to your advantage. This is a really neat tool for getting the most out of your ISRC, but Reprtoir’s Catalog Management System (CMS), is useful with the ISWC number, too.

Catalog Management is a CMS that is made for songwriters, publishers, and whoever holds compositional rights. Rather than relying on the PROs to track your royalties, you can take the bull by the horns, track works yourself, and more. It is an essential music marketing tool that allows you to track ISWCs, organize your metadata, and keep track of all of your works in one place.

Reprtoir’s software is helping music professionals to take control of their catalogs through the ability to organize and track all of the information that they need. It is concise, succinct, and the key to success as an independent artist, label manager, or music publisher. By integrating with the existing tracking codes, we give music pros the keys to their own destinies.

Continue reading


Get great original music business articles every week.

Get Reprtoir news and in-depth articles on the music industry. No more than one per week. No spam.
No spam!
Reprtoir is committed to music businesses' digital transition.
We offer a 14-day free trial period (no credit card required). Become a customer to benefit from our data migration services and expert advice.
Reprtoir is committed to music businesses' digital transition.