What is an ISRC?

The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) system is the international system for the identification of recorded music and music videos. Each ISRC is a unique identifier that can be permanently encoded into a recording or music video. Encoded ISRCs automatically identify recordings for PPL payments.

PPL is the appointed sole agency for ISRCs in the UK. You should request an ISRC ‘stem’ (or first registrant code) when you become a PPL recording rightsholder member. This stem is three letters allocated in sequence from PPL’s database that is specific to each recording rightsholder member.

Your unique stem enables you to assign individual ISRC codes to recordings.

An ISRC is made up of 12 characters and split into four sections:

  • The first two characters identify the country where the member is based (eg, ‘UK’ represents ‘United Kingdom’). Please note, as each country code has a limited number of possible registrant codes, this may vary. We may allocate you a stem with a GB, GX or alternative prefix.
  • The next three characters identify the recording rightsholder. We allocate these three letters and numbers – they are specific to you as the rightsholder. (Please note that this code does not imply permanent ownership of the recording or video. The code will not change if the recording is later licensed to a different owner.)
  • The next two characters identify the year in which the specific recording was given an ISRC.
  • The last five characters are the choice of the rightsholder when allocating recordings with an ISRC. These characters are always numbers. The easiest way to organise this section of the code is to give the first recording ‘00001’, the second ‘00002’, etc. The sequence can be reset to ‘00001’ when a new year of reference (section three, detailed above) is applicable.

How do I request an ISRC stem?

You can request an ISRC stem when you join PPL as a recording rightsholder member. During the registration process, you will be asked “Do you already have an ISRC first registrant code (e.g. GB-AN1)?” Please answer “No, please provide me with one” and we will allocate you a code.

If you are already registered as a PPL recording rightsholder member and require a new or additional ISRC, you can request an ISRC by logging into your myPPL account and requesting a new ‘ISRC only’ registration.

If you want an ISRC stem but do not wish to join PPL for royalty collection, please select “I want an ISRC but do not wish to register as a PPL member” from the list of registration options here.

Please note you only need to apply for a new ISRC registrant code when there is a completely new rightsholder. A new track owned by the same rightsholder, or rightsholders, can keep using the same first five characters with the additional seven digits identifying this as a unique track.

Looking for more information about PPL membership?

Joining PPL is free. If your music has been played on radio, TV, online or in public, you could be entitled to royalties.

Learn more about becoming a PPL member