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RIAA confirms SoundExchange as the “authoritative source” of ISRC data

By | Published on Thursday 23 July 2020


The Recording Industry Association Of America has formally confirmed US collecting society SoundExchange as the country’s authoritative source of ISRC data. Which you’d possibly have thought was a given, but, you know, now it’s been officially designated. And who doesn’t enjoy an official designation?

The International Standard Recording Code is the unique identifier attached to each and every sound recording by a label or distributor as it is released. It’s required because artists keep releasing records with the same name. Possibly due to a lack of imagination. Or maybe a lack of words.

The use of the code has become more important in the streaming age, so that streaming services can recognise when the same recordings are resupplied, and so that songs can be matched to recordings as part of the tricky process of getting songwriters and music publishers paid.

It’s also important whenever recorded music is licensed through the collective licensing system, which is one of the reasons why the collecting societies often have the best databases of ISRCs, matched to track title, label and performers.

In the US, that society is SoundExchange. “Due to SoundExchange’s extensive experience and widely respected reputation for efficiency and transparency”, the RIAA’s David Hughes said yesterday, “RIAA considers the ISRC codes and associated sound recording data held by SoundExchange as authoritative for commercial use in the US marketplace. Moving forward, everyone should utilise this data”.

He also noted that the relatively recent Music Modernization Act in the US is seeking to overhaul the way streaming royalties are paid, especially on the songs side, and that getting on top of all the different elements of music rights data is a key part of that. “Industry-wide use of these codes and associated data will contribute to the successful implementation of the MMA”, he added, “and to increased efficiency across the US music industry more generally”.

Having been officially designated as the RIAA’s very favourite place for storing ISRC gubbins, SoundExchange’s CEO Michael Huppe said: “Accurate and accessible data is vital to a healthy music industry, and serving as the authoritative source of ISRC data advances SoundExchange’s mission to ensure that music creators are paid accurately and efficiently. When we eliminate friction through better and more efficient technology solutions such as access to ISRC data, creators in the music community can focus on the music”.