ISRC Codes And ID3 Data Explained

What Are ISRC Codes?

An ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) is a unique digital “barcode” that’s encrypted into a music or video file. ARIA is the agency that provides codes for Australian owned sound recordings.

You need to provide your mastering engineer with ISRC codes so he can encode them into your CD.

An ISRC code is usually 12 digits (e.g. AU-xx1-10-00001) as follows:

*2 letter “Country Code” (Australia is represented by the letters “AU”).

*3 letter “Registrant Code”, made up of a 2 digit “First Owner Code” (assigned by ARIA), followed by the number 1 if it’s a sound recording, or the number 9 if it’s a video recording.

*2 digit “Year of Reference (year ISRC was assigned)

*The last 5 digits are assigned by the artist/label/publisher to identify the sound recording (i.e. the particular song, or remix etc).

For a more complex description, click here:


What Are ID3 Tags & CD Text?

ID3 “metadata” tags can be added to the beginning or end of an MP3 audio file. This usually includes information about the artist, type of audio, track title, year, genre, artist name, album art etc.

ID3 tags cannot be added to uncompressed audio files (e.g. WAV or AIF).

However CD TEXT (which is pretty much the same info found in an ID3 tag i.e. track names etc) can be encoded into a WAV/AIF audio CD. CD Text compatible players will then be able to display the info (however most Mac programs will not display CD text).

During digital distribution, the information (track names etc) is submitted to iTunes, Amazon etc (along with the song’s ISRC code) who then add the info to their online databases. When a song is viewed in a player like iTunes, the ID3 data can then be retrieved from their database by matching the ISRC code, track length etc. 


Most computer software applications that are capable of playing CDs, such as Winamp, Media Go, and iTunes, use Gracenote’s CDDB technology. When you insert a CD they query the Gracenote database by matching track length etc, and display the information if its been submitted to their database.Click here for instructions on how to add your own CD to the Gracenote database.

*A Note About iTunes and ID3*

If the file you are playing wasn’t downloaded directly from iTunes or imported to iTunes from a proper CD, iTunes will often say “iTunes cannot get CD track names for songs that were not imported using iTunes”.

The solution is to download one of the many “Mp3 Taggers” such as, which will systematically go through all your music files, search for their information online, and add the ID3 data it finds.

How To Add ID3 Data & Submit to Gracenote

You can add ID3 data to files by downloading a tag-editing program. However most of these programs won’t send the information to online databases (iTunes etc).

If you already have an ISRC code, you can enter the ID3 Tags in iTunes (right click track then select “get info”). When all track information is entered, go to Advanced then Submit CD Track Names. The track information will now be sent to the Gracenote database. The songs won’t be available on iTunes, but theoretically iTunes will be able to recognize them on anyone’s computer (see above “A Note About iTunes and ID3”).

Austep Music Digital Distribution

If you get a digital distributor such as Emu Bands to upload your music to iTunes etc, they will assign ISRC codes to your songs for free. Click here for more info


Written by Austep Music, January 2011