What U need to KNOW & DO when releasing music on the Net, Satellite Radio or other music services
If you plan on releasing your music on the Net, through satellite
radio, or via music services like Muzak, you’ll need to understand the
A lot of information on a music CD isn’t music. Some of it are codes
that help trace the uses and sales of your music online. Without them
there is a good chance you’ll miss out on royalties owed you.
The four important codes you’ll need are:
1. Universal Product Code (UPC): This is also known as a “bar code”
and it is attached to nearly every packaged product available in retail
stores. Each product has a unique 12-digit number, encoded in the bars,
which are scanned upon purchase and allow for the tracking of inventory
Most music chains no longer carry non-UPC products (because they
can’t scan them at the cash register), and major label A&R
departments conduct much of their market research on unsigned bands and
indie labels by checking Soundscan sales on the retail level.
Nielsen Soundscan collects UPC sales data from over 10,000 outlets in
the U.S. and Canada to compile its weekly list of music sales, which
are published online (www.soundscan.com). These reports are an important
ingredient in the weekly Billboard charts.
You can get a barcode either through the Uniform Code Council
(www.uccouncil.org) for about $500, or from any number of music services
(e.g., indie retailer CD Baby or CD manufacturer Oasis) for a lot less
money. Of course, getting a barcode is one thing, subscribing to
Soundscan reports is another, and costs are high (best to find a buddy
who works at a record store that subscribes and view the report that
2. ISRC (International Standard Recording Code): The ISRC is a
relatively new international identification system for sound recordings
and music DVDs. The 12-character alphanumeric ISRC functions as a
digital “fingerprint” for each track. Each ISRC is a unique and
permanent identifier for a specific recording, to help identify
recordings for royalty payments. It is assigned per track, not per CD.
Unlike UPCs, the ISRC is tied to the track, not the carrier of the
No one knows which code will end up being the universal identifier
for digital music tracks, but the ISRC is a good start (even though the
RIAA runs the program). It’s smart to identify your recordings this way.
They are embedded in the metadata of your CD during the mastering
phase. Make sure you let your CD manufacturer know these codes are in
your master. If your CD manufacturer doesn’t know about ISRCs, find one
ISRC codes can be obtained by both large and small music companies,
even single artist labels. The full application process can be performed
online and via email. Those based in the U.S. can download forms and
get further information at: www.riaa.com . If you are based outside the
U.S., visit http://ifpi.org/isrc for the information you need.
3. CD Text: “CD Text” is information about the release that can be
encoded as a separate file on an audio CD. It stores information like
the album and song titles. When playing back an audio CD containing CD
Text information on a CD Text-enabled player (usually an LCD screen),
the listener will be able to read this information on the display panel.
It’s displayed only on CD or DVD players, not on the desktop of most
computers. One fast-growing space for these displays is
Since its part of the Red Book standard, CD Text info can be entered
onto a CD master quite easily using the “table of contents” in the
appropriate CD sub channel. Like the ISRC, this happens during the
mastering phase of your recording. Be sure to plan ahead for this.
4. CDDB (CD Data Base): CDDB is a database for software applications
to look up CD information over the Internet. You’ve probably noticed it
when ever you’ve imported a CD into your computer’s music library. Most
of what you see is the work of one company, Gracenote, which has been
entering the identity of every CD track for many years now.
It was designed around the task of identifying entire CDs, not merely
single tracks. The identification process involves creating a “discid,”
a sort of “fingerprint” of a CD created by performing calculations on
the track duration information stored in the table-of-contents of the
There are alternatives to Gracenotes’s proprietary CDDB. These
include FreeDB, MusicBrainz and All Media Guide’s AMG LASSO. Gracenote
will eventually pick up on your CD, but it’s not a bad idea to send the
information in yourself. To submit to Gracenote’s database go to:
http://gracenote.com and read the FAQs under “Company Info.”
Keep good records of all this information to ensure accurate and
comprehensive monitoring of your music’s uses in the digital age.
Provided by the MusicDish Network. Copyright © MusicDish LLC 2006 – Republished with Permission
For more information contact Kathry Sebanc http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=126982834&trk=tab_pro
Companies like Disc Makers will provide a barcode on the back of your CD when providing duplication.
This code is not registered or connected to soundscan. Its important
to buy a barcode before pressing your CD. Barcode stickers are a good
alternative if the code was purchased after duplication.
To apply for a barcode with the UCC go to www.uccouncil.org
Once you have completed the registration your barcode will arrive in about 2-3 weeks.
Upon receiving the code log onto www.soundscan.com to connect your barcode for calculation of sales.
There are several companies that sell less expensive barcode’s including http://www.tunecore.com/ and http://www.cdbaby.com/
Tunecore provide’s a FREE barcode when using their service to
distribute your music online. The barcode is given at the end with your
registration confirmation. This code can be linked to soundscan to track
all online sales and contribute to Billboard Top 20 Sales Chart.
Due to cost, not all stores are registered with soundscan, Artist
that sell on consignment should ask the store owner or manager if their
cash register is connect to the systems..something to keep in mind when
selling in your state or area.