Additional Resources

By: Mike King

If you plan on making money through digital sales of individual tracks of your music, you are going to need an ISRC code. An ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is a unique 12-character alphanumeric ‘digital fingerprint’ that stays with an individual recorded track forever, regardless of any changes in ownership of the track. ISRC’s are added to the recording during the mastering stage, or at the encoding stage by whichever digital aggregator/distributor you are using to deliver your recorded content to the retailer.

ISRC codes are used to trace sales of single tracks through digital distribution outlets like iTunes, as well as help to trace the owner of a recording who is owed royalties when their recording is used by Internet and Satellite radio.

A UPC (Universal Product Code or Barcode) represents the entire digital product, as opposed to just an individual digital track. UPC codes are typically found on the back of the sound recording’s physical packaging, and are used by brick and mortar retailers and online outlets to gather and track sales information for the entire product. Soundscan compiles UPC sales data from thousands of retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada (as well as sales from artists on tour) to compile its weekly list of music sales. These reports are an important ingredient in the weekly Billboard charts, and also factor into many A&R departments decisions to sign an artist.

You can apply for an ISRC code from the RIAA. Bar codes are a bit trickier. It is possible for you to register as a company and receive your own UPC prefix from the UCC, but it is probably not cost effective. An easier way for an independent artist to get a bar code is to work with a distributor that has already purchased a company code, and can give UPC barcodes to the albums they are distributing. Check out more discussion on this topic here.

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Published: Tue, 15/05/2007 - 13:02