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What is an ISWC?

3 min read

The ISWC is the unique identifier for musical works.

It helps link a musical work to the associated core metadata.

What is an ISWC?

ISWC, or International Standard Musical Work Code, is an 11-character long code of numbers and letters. This is assigned to a new when it’s registered with a .

Its purpose is to uniquely identify a musical work and link it to the associated core including the title, ’ names, and their . The ISWC is then used in databases and data exchange formats where information is added, for example, publishing information and . Having this information makes it easier to track and accurately pay you when your musical work is used.

Each unique musical work can only have one unique ISWC code. So even if that musical work has multiple , there may be multiple for those sound recordings, but they will all be linked to the one ISWC code assigned to the musical work.

Who is an ISWC for?

An ISWC identifies musical works owned by songwriters and . It is assigned when they their musical works with a CMO. It is used throughout the music industry to track usage and accurately pay and other for the use of their musical works.

How do you get an ISWC?

As ISWC Agencies, most CMOs will assign an ISWC, usually as soon as a musical work is registered. You can find a list of ISWC agencies on the ISWC Network website.

There are some minimum descriptive requirements for getting an ISWC, but if you have collaborated with other songwriters on a musical work, you must ultimately also have each songwriter’s number to register the musical work and be assigned an ISWC.

The descriptive metadata requirements for an ISWC include:

  • The title of the work

  • All songwriters of the work identified by their IPI numbers and

  • In the case of versions, for example , identification of the original work from which the version was derived.

Visit the ISWC Network website to find out more.

Why is an ISWC important?

The ISWC is how your musical works will be identified in most music industry databases and data exchange formats. It is unique and essential for receiving payments from CMOs and other sources for the use of your musical works. Register and keep track of it; it will be used to link musical works to sound recordings and report plays and income back to you.

Image credit: Martin Fabricius Rasmussen