Embedding ISRC Codes in Audio and Video Files

What is embedding and why do I need it?

The process of embedding is the entry of the ISRC code, UPC code, and other identifying information about your work into the metadata of your audio or video file. Below are some examples to illustrate what that means:

You are riding in your car and the artist and title of a song is being displayed on the stereo or MP3 player.
Playing a song or video on your computer or phone and the cover picture of the artist is displayed along with a title and other information.

Have you ever wondered where that information comes from?

There are three possibilities of encoding that information. We can help you with achieving all of them:

  1. Just the ISRC code is embedded. This allows the information to be pulled from online databases which your Internet-connected devices access.
  2. All of the information is embedded directly in the file. (Yes, we can even embed the cover images.) This allows devices that are not connected to the Internet, like car stereos, MP3 players, CD players, etc. to display the information about your song.
  3. The ISRC plus all of the information is embedded in the file. This permits offline devices to display the information stored and online devices to have the option to display the stored information OR to pull the most current information from online databases.

Also, have you wondered how the ISRC code gets connected to the audio/video file when you upload it for sale, and how sales and royalties are tracked?

Embedding ISRC codes (Sound/Video Recording Identifier) and UPC codes (Release Identifier) helps those who carry your work identify your songs and videos more easily. This aids them in tracking revenues, plays, etc. It is also beginning to be required in some cases. Embedding can help prevent song or video misidentification as well. In addition, if you ever lose your ISRC code, you will be able to retrieve it from your file if needed.

Let our professionals handle your audio and video file embedding for you! The cost is only $5 per audio/video recording. Click here to order now!

How do I order ISRC embedding?

1st Go to our Order Page or call us at +1-404-869-0701 or toll free at 1-877-872-2060.
2nd Place your order.
3rd Upload your files to us per the instructions in your receipt.
4th We will process your order once we receive all the files that are part of your order. (No order splitting, please.)
5th We will provide you with a download link to the embedded files.

Will the quality or content of my music or video be affected by embedding?

No, it will not. Our software is not capable of accessing the music or video portion of your files. Since we only work with the metadata portion of your files, our work does not affect the actual audio or video content portion of your file in any way. It is important to us to respect and protect the integrity of our customers’ work!

How long does it take to embed ISRC codes?

We deliver embedding the same business day (Mon-Fri) if you complete the order and supply us your files before 4pm EST.

How do I get the audio or video files to you and back from you?

If you only have one file to embed, you can send it to us via email. We will email it back to you once it is embedded. For several tracks, especially videos, you may upload your files to our file exchange server by clicking here ISRC.WeTransfer.com (be sure to reference your order number!) or use your own online storage service like WeTransfer, PlusTransfer, iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox, or a music sharing site. We will then return the files to you by sending you a link to your embedded files which will be ready for download. No login is required.

Can I request to have other metadata besides or in addition to the ISRC code embedded?

Of course you can! Artist and title are more of less mandatory, UPC code is recommended for releases, and other fields are available. Please let us know by specifying in your request what metadata exactly you would like embedded in your file. (If you have lots of tracks or lots of information then we can provide you a template to complete. Just ask!) We can even embed your cover art. Just send it along with your files. The cover art to be embedded along with the ISRC codes should be in JPEG or PNG format, square shape, and roughly 3000 by 3000 pixels.

What do I need to keep in mind about embedding cover art into audio and video files?

There are 3 things that you should consider if you plan to have cover art embedded into your audio and/or video files:

  1. Audio File Format – Note that the WAV & OGG audio file formats do NOT support displaying cover art while playing the cover reliably in ALL audio players. Recently, MAC computers have added this capability and some players (like VLC player on PC) will now display covers embedded in a WAV & OGG. We CAN and WILL GLADLY embed your cover art into your WAV & OGG audio file but if displaying cover art is important to you then you should send an additional audio file format for embedding such as MP3, M4A, FLAC, MKA, AAC, AIFF, or WMA.
  2. Cover Content – The information shown on your cover (your track title, band/artist name, etc.) should match what is embedded in the file. Make sure whatever you decide to include on the cover actually matches what you have us embed. Our clients are increasingly reporting back to us that their music distributors are getting rather picky about making sure this matches up.
  3. Parental Advisory – If you have an explicit and a clean (radio/tv edit) of your song/video then you should not only have separate ISRC and UPC codes but also separate covers. The explicit cover should have the parental advisory logo while the clean cover should be without it. Please be sure to send BOTH covers with your music or video files when doing an embedding order.

How can I see if the ISRCs are embedded after you embedded them?

For good reason, the ISRC code is embedded deep within the file. Some authoring software and online music services allow you to display the ISRC. Windows Explorer, currently, does not. (If you are trying to determine if your song or video files already have an (or the correct) ISRC code embedded, we offer an ISRC verification service at only $5 per track or video.)

Can I do the embedding myself?

If you have the required tools and the professional skills to embed your ISRC codes, UPC Codes, cover art, and all the other track information into the metadata of the file yourself, then sure, you could. But at only $5 a song/video, why would you want to? Save yourself the time & work and allow our ISRC professionals handle the embedding for you. You can order right here.

Is embedding of ISRC codes required?

Let’s start at the top by looking at the global ISRC Standards published by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) which state:
“Where a recording is encoded technically, for instance as an audio MP3 file, an audiovisual MP4 file, a stream, a CD, DVD or BluRay disk, the ISRC should if possible be encoded alongside the recording … The encoding of an ISRC should, where possible, be made as secure and persistent as possible. This can be done for example through the use of watermarking, fingerprinting, digital tags, bar codes, cryptographic hashes, digital signatures and other techniques.”

By no means are we making a case that embedding is an absolute requirement everywhere. It depends on where you plan to sell/stream your music. Different stores and aggregators have different requirements. Clients have reported that ISRC embedding was asked of them to submit audio to radio stations, to synch licensing, and submit videos to MTV & VH1 as well as parts of YouTube, for example.

Regardless of requirement, embedding your ISRC codes, UPC codes, and other identifying information into your work before you put your work out there in public is simply best practices and a smart thing to do. The International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) is the global standard for proper identification of recordings. Why would you not want to properly identify your work with the ISRC and all of the other information about your recording?

What formats do you recommend for embedding audio files and videos?

We advise clients to try to always embed their audios as BOTH an MP3 and WAV as a matter of Best Practice. You will find that the different purposes that you use your audios for, like radio submission, synch licensing, distribution, website, social media, copyright registration, etc. call for one version or the other. It pays to have your files ready in whatever format a given use of the audios may demand.

Videos are normally embedded in the MP4 format.

What file formats are supported and why?

High-quality MP3, WAV, M4A (Apple Lossless Format), FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec), OGG, MKA, AAC, AIFF, and WMA are supported for audio, and MP4, M4V, and MKV is supported for video. The mentioned file formats are supported because they have a separate metadata compartment in which we can embed the ISRC. Imagine it like a suitcase with two different compartments: One for your clean clothes, one for your shoes to keep those two items apart. The metadata compartment is separate from the music/video content. We never touch your music/video. Our work is solely in the metadata compartment.

Please note that it is possible to embed ISRCs, artist, title and other data into WAV & OGG files. HOWEVER, the embedded cover art is NOT reliably displayed by all software/hardware players as of yet. (Recently, MAC computers have added this capability and some players (like VLC player on PC) will now display covers embedded in a WAV & OGG.) Therefore, for those clients who value displaying their cover art while playing the file, we recommend adding another file format that does reliably show the cover (like MP3, M4A, FLAC, etc.).

Many in the music industry still ask for WAV files before considering any other format due to a misconception that MP3 files are inferior to WAV quality. This is NOT true any longer. The MP3 format accommodates various levels of quality, called bit rate. If you set this rate too low then you will receive a small file size with low quality audio. However, MP3 files now accommodate bit rates as high as 320, which results in a top quality recording. (In fact, some say that any quality level of 128 or better is sufficient.)

If you are still concerned about the quality of MP3 then feel free to submit your music in the M4A (Apple Lossless) or the FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) or, if universal cover art display does not matter to you, in WAV or OGG format.

If you need help converting (transcoding) your music from one file format to another, please see our instructions on how to convert WAV to MP3 or M4A using iTunes for free or use this convenient (free) online conversion site.

For free WAV to FLAC file format conversion instructions please click here or try this site, since iTunes does not offer this format.

Can I convert my embedded files to another format and maintain the embedded data?

Unfortunately, we do not know of a single transcoding (file conversion) software that properly maintains the embedded information when converting a file from one format to another (WAV to MP3, for example). It is therefore recommended that you do embedding on all the formats (MP3 and WAV for example) in which you want to distribute your audio or video files right up front. Alternatively, you can do a separate embedding project on any new versions that you create in a different format down the road.

Do you embed Dolby ATMOS recordings?


Your Dolby ATMOS files can be embedded properly. Please keep in mind that you will need different ISRC Codes for the recordings done in Dolby ATMOS for embedding per this rule from the ISRC Handbook: “A multi-channel recording shall have a different ISRC from a stereo recording.”

What is required for HD (high-definition) and/or Ultra HD or UHD (ultra high-definition) music streaming services?

If you plan to submit your music to HD or Ultra HD streaming services such as Amazon HD, Deezer, or Tidal then you will need to embed files in the lossless FLAC format.

For example, at last check, Amazon HD streams using FLAC in 16 bit, 44.1 kHz, up to 850 kbps and Amazon Ultra HD streams using FLAC in 24 bit, 192 kHz, up to 3730 kbps.

We recommend that you embed in the standard-definition (SD) format (MP3, for example) your standard streaming services require AND embed separately in FLAC for HD and/or UHD streaming.