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SoundExchange Debuts Search Tool for Song Codes

More accurate metadata means better, faster, more accurate royalties.

Need to find an important piece of metadata for a particular recording? SoundExchange has announced the launch of an online tool for looking up the ISRCs, or International Standard Recording Codes, related to the nearly 20 million recordings in its database.
ISRC is the standard for identifying sound recordings. Countries have their own ISRC agency that assign the unique numbers. Each number is comprised of a two-letter country code, a three-character code for the registrant, two numbers for the year, and five numbers assigned by the registrant. The RIAA oversees the ISRC system in the United States and its territories. The IFPI oversees ISRCs globally.

A correct ISRC helps ensure the correct label or artist is paid a performance royalty when the recording is streamed by webcasters such as Pandora and satellite radio service SiriusXM Radio. At any given time, SoundExchange has tens of millions of dollars in undistributed royalties because it has received inaccurate or incomplete data from a service. The process of correctly matching reported songs to their recordings can cause delays in payment to artists and rights holders.

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In recent years, there has been an increasingly urgent call through the music industry for improvements in how data is standardized and attached to copyrighted works. SoundExchange president Michael Huppe believes his organization’s new tool will help ensure rights holders and artists are paid accurately and in a timely manner. “I think this is another step in the positive journey toward providing better information for the industry,” he tells Billboard.
The portal allows a person to look up an ISRC, one at a time, by artist name, song title, album, year, version and UPC/EAN. Each result can be added to a cart for future reference, which can then be exported to a CSV file so the data can be inputted to a digital service’s system. The IFPI also provides a lookup tool it created in conjunction with SoundExchange with identical information.

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 Each ISRC code is supposed to live with a recording in perpetuity. For example, the same ISRC code should be used for a recording whether it’s on the original album, a greatest hits compilation, a soundtrack, and a reissue by a different label after the copyright changes hands (unless the previous label did not apply for an ISRC).