ISRC code

What is the difference between an ISWC and an ISRC code?

By Polina Bondarenko

14 May, 2024

If you're a musician or involved in the music industry, you might have heard about the terms ISWC and ISRC codes. They are two different types of identification codes that help track and manage musical works and recordings. In this article, we'll dive into the details of these codes and their differences to help you understand their purpose and usage.

Understanding ISWC and ISRC Codes

Before we get into the specifics of ISWC and ISRC codes, let's start with the basics. An identification code is a unique alphanumeric string that assigns a number to a specific entity, such as a musical work or recording. These codes help identify and track the usage of the entity, which is useful for managing copyrights and royalties.

But why are these codes so important? Well, without them, it would be nearly impossible to keep track of all the different musical works and recordings that exist in the world. Imagine trying to manage the ownership and usage of thousands or even millions of songs without any kind of identification system in place. It would be a nightmare!

The Purpose of ISWC and ISRC Codes

The International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC) and the International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) serve different purposes. ISWC codes identify musical works, such as compositions and lyrics, while ISRC codes identify specific recordings of musical works. The purpose of these codes is to help manage the ownership and usage of original works and their recordings.

Without these codes, it would be difficult to determine who owns the rights to a particular song or recording. This could lead to legal disputes and financial losses for artists and other stakeholders. By having a standardized system in place for identifying musical works and recordings, everyone involved in the music industry can benefit.

How ISWC and ISRC Codes are Assigned

Both ISWC and ISRC codes are assigned by official agencies in each country. In the United States, for example, the ISWC is assigned by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) and Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), while the ISRC is assigned by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

But how do these agencies know which codes to assign to which works and recordings? Well, it all starts with the creators of the music. When a composer or lyricist creates a new musical work, they can apply for an ISWC code by submitting a registration form with the relevant information about the work. Similarly, when an artist records a new version of a musical work, they can apply for an ISRC code by submitting a registration form with the relevant information about the recording.

Once the agency receives the application, they will review it and assign a unique code to the work or recording. This code will then be used to identify the entity in question whenever it is used or licensed for commercial purposes.

Overall, ISWC and ISRC codes play a crucial role in the music industry by helping to manage the ownership and usage of musical works and recordings. Without these codes, it would be much harder for artists, publishers, and other stakeholders to protect their rights and earn the royalties they deserve.

International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC)

What is an ISWC Code?

The International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC) is a unique identification number that is assigned to a musical work, such as a song, composition, or lyrics. The ISWC code was developed by the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC) to provide a universal identification system for musical works.

The ISWC code consists of 13 alphanumeric characters and is used to identify a musical work regardless of language or country of origin. The first two characters of the code represent the country where the work was first published, while the remaining characters are assigned by the national ISWC agency.

How ISWC Codes are Used

ISWC codes are used to manage copyrights and royalties for musical works. They help track the usage of the works across different media, such as radio, television, and streaming services. This allows publishers and composers to receive the appropriate compensation for their creations.

ISWC codes are also used by music rights organizations to identify and track the usage of musical works. This helps to ensure that the correct royalties are paid to the right people and that the usage of the works is properly licensed.

Benefits of ISWC Codes for Creators and Publishers

ISWC codes provide numerous benefits for creators and publishers. They help manage the ownership of musical works and ensure that royalties are paid to the right people. With the help of ISWC codes, creators and publishers can easily track the usage of their works across different platforms, which can help increase exposure and revenue for the works.

ISWC codes also help to prevent unauthorized use of musical works. By providing a unique identification number for each work, it is easier to track and identify instances of infringement. This helps to protect the rights of creators and publishers and ensures that they are properly compensated for their work.

In conclusion, the ISWC code is an essential tool for the management of musical works. It provides a universal identification system that helps to track the ownership and usage of musical works across different platforms. With the help of ISWC codes, creators and publishers can ensure that they receive the appropriate compensation for their creations and that their rights are protected.

International Standard Recording Code (ISRC)

What is an ISRC Code?

An ISRC code is a unique identification number that is assigned to a specific recording of a musical work. It helps track the ownership and usage of the recording across different platforms and mediums.

How ISRC Codes are Used

ISRC codes are used to manage royalties for recording artists and labels. They help track the usage of the recordings across different media, such as radio, television, and streaming services, and ensure that the appropriate compensation is paid to the right people.

Benefits of ISRC Codes for Recording Artists and Labels

ISRC codes provide numerous benefits for recording artists and labels. They help manage the ownership of the recordings and ensure that royalties are paid to the right people. They also make it easier to track the usage of the recordings across different platforms, which can help increase exposure and revenue for the artists and labels.

Key Differences Between ISWC and ISRC Codes

Purpose and Scope

The main difference between ISWC and ISRC codes is their purpose and scope. ISWC codes identify musical works, such as compositions and lyrics, while ISRC codes identify specific recordings of musical works. They serve different purposes and are used for different aspects of managing music ownership and usage.

Code Structure and Format

ISWC and ISRC codes also have different code structures and formats. ISWC codes are comprised of 11 characters, while ISRC codes are comprised of 12 characters. The first four characters of an ISWC code indicate the country code and the next seven are assigned by the registration agency. The first two characters of an ISRC code indicate the country code and the next three are assigned by the registration agency. The remaining seven characters are assigned by the rights holder.

Rights Management and Royalties

Finally, the way in which ISWC and ISRC codes are used for rights management and royalties differs. ISWC codes are primarily used to manage compositions and are important for publishers and composers. ISRC codes are used to manage recordings and are important for recording artists and labels. Both the codes are essential for managing music ownership and ensuring that the appropriate royalties are paid to the right people.

Conclusion

In summary, the main difference between ISWC and ISRC codes is their purpose and scope. ISWC codes identify musical compositions and lyrics, while ISRC codes identify specific recordings of musical works. They are both essential for managing music ownership and ensuring that the appropriate royalties are paid to the right people. Understanding these codes and their differences can help you as a musician or music industry professional better manage your rights and royalties.

Polina
Written byPolina Bondarenko

Lina Cooper is a young up and coming pop songwriter, artist, producer, a graduate of Berklee College, a self-proclaimed Yellow Manic Pixie Dream Girl and a Ukrainian native currently residing in LA.