International Standard Musical Work Code
International Standard Musical Work Code (ISWC) is a unique identifier for musical works, similar to ISBN. It is adopted as international standard ISO 15707. The ISO subcommittee with responsibility for the standard is TC 46/SC 9
TC 46/SC 9
ISO TC 46/SC 9 is the ninth subcommittee of ISO technical committee 46, and is responsible for identification and description of information resources.-ISO standards overseen:Note: All names are in the format of International Standard...



Each code is composed of three parts:
  1. prefix element (1 character)
  2. work identifier (9 digits)
  3. check digit
    Check digit
    A check digit is a form of redundancy check used for error detection, the decimal equivalent of a binary checksum. It consists of a single digit computed from the other digits in the message....

     (1 digit)

Currently, the only prefix defined is "T", indicating Musical works. However, additional prefixes may be defined in the future to expand the available range of identifiers and/or expand the system to additional types of works.

ISWC identifiers are commonly written the form T-123.456.789-Z. The grouping is for ease of reading only; the numbers do not incorporate any information about the work's region, author, publisher, etc. Rather, they are simply issued in sequence. These separators are not required, and no other separators are allowed.

The first ISWC was assigned in 1995, for the song "Dancing Queen
Dancing Queen
"Dancing Queen" is a pop song recorded by Swedish pop group ABBA. It was released in August 1976, but was first performed two months earlier, on 18 June 1976, during a Royal Variety Show in Stockholm the evening before the Swedish royal wedding. It was the follow-up single to the hit "Fernando"...

" by ABBA
ABBA was a Swedish pop group formed in Stockholm in 1970 which consisted of Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Agnetha Fältskog...

; the code is T-000.000.001-0.


To register an ISWC, the following minimal information must be supplied:
  • title
  • names of all composers, arrangers and authors, with their role in the piece (identified by role code) and their CAE
    CAE number
    In musical rights management, the CAE number was previously used to identify rights holders. The acronym "CAE" was devised by the national society of Switzerland, SUISA, and consisted of the French words Compositeur, Auteur and , for Composer, Author and Publisher...

    Interested Parties Information
    IPI is an identifying number assigned in the CISACdatabase to each Interested Party in musical rights management.Example of IP Base Number : I-000000229-7.In October 2001, the IPI database replaced the CAE list....

  • work classification code (CIS)
  • identification of other works it is a derivative of

Note: an ISWC identifies works, not recordings. ISRC can be used to identify recordings. Nor does it identify individual publications (e.g. issues of a recording on physical media, sheet music, broadcast at a particular frequency/modulation/time/location...)

Its primary purpose is in collecting society administration, and to clearly identify works in legal contracts. It would also be useful in library cataloguing.

Due to the fact that a musical work can have multiple authors, it is inevitable that, on rare occasions, a duplicate ISWC might exist and might not be detected immediately. Because of the existing business practices among collecting societies, it is not possible to simply declare an ISWC as obsolete. In such cases, as soon as they are identified, the system will deal with duplicate registrations by linking such registration records in the ISWC database and its related products.

External links

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