|International ISMN Agency|
Part 1: General questions
ISMN is the International Standard Music Number. It is
a unique number for the identification of all notated music editions from all
over the world. The edition can be in printed or digital format and be for sale,
for hire or distributed free of charge; whether a part, a score, or an element
in a multi-media kit.
It is true, just looking at the technical side of the identifiers, ISBN would be able to cover also music publications. There are a number of practical reasons, however, which exclude this "easy" solution:
Who needs an ISMN?
Everyone who comes
in contact with notated music publications needs an ISMN. Its usefulness is recognized
internationally by composers, music publishers, music traders, libraries and rights
International Standard Music Number is an efficient organizational and simplification
tool wherever notated music publications are produced, distributed, sold and lent.
The ISMN gives added value to the entire music industry chain.
The key benefit is the ability
of the ISMN to accurately track products through their lifetime. Tracking allows
capturing of critical information, follow-up of products, use of the worldwide
supply chain, monitoring and synchronization. Other gains are improved stakeholder
communication, greater interoperability of systems, increased opportunities to
automate processes, better management of data, improved ordering and sales, online
information exchange, transparency in the field of copyright, streamlining of
royalty payments, simplification of legal deposit in libraries and more efficient
and effective cataloguing.
There is sometimes the question whether the ISMN is really useful to countries with a small music production.
There are indeed advantages:
For the composer the ISMN helps timely and accurate
royalty payments and lifelong unquestionable ownership of the piece of music.
number helps music publishers in managing the supply chain through close tracking
of a products movements, enhanced communication, greater interoperability of systems,
automated workflows, greater data management, increased visibility, streamlining
of accounts payable and smoother progress of an outsourcing workflow.
Using an information-rich
unique id for each product creates a smoother and more efficient ordering system,
a transparent and accessible selling process and smooth online information exchange.
The number is deemed most useful in the simplification of the title registration
process, tracking and close follow-up of music usage, transparency in copyright
issues and streamlining of royalty payments.
The number is esteemed for its usefulness
in the simplification of the acquisition and legal deposit process, inclusion
in library catalogues and comprehensive data structuring.
International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) - identifies a
person, the creator
the ISMN and ISBN are separate numbering systems; ISBN is the International Standard
Book Number which identifies text-based publications and ISMN is the International
Standard Music Number which identifies notated music publications. They are also
distinguished from each other through different specializations, different supply
and distribution channels, access to global markets, hiring and ordering processes
and global directories.
national agency of your country will provide you with an International Standard
Music Number for your publication. A list of the agencies may be found here.
The cost of obtaining
an ISMN varies from country to country. Please contact your national agency for
you wish to obtain an ISMN, please contact your national ISMN agency. The local
ISMN representative will give you further information about the procedure of the
Yes, you need a new
ISMN for a new title.
No. It is the country where the publisher is based
which determines which national agency should assign the publisher ID, not the
language of the text.
A (substantial) change requires a new ISMN.
No. The original number must be retained.
There is no change of text, format or binding which would justify a new ISMN.
A price change does not require a new ISMN.
An additional publisher
ID can be assigned--allowing for a larger output if necessary. This is an additional
ID, and not a replacement.
ISMN identifies a given title, and its edition and binding for all time. Even
if out of print it will still exist in some shops, and will certainly still exist
rules state that in a publication consisting of scores and parts, the full score,
the set of parts as a whole, and each individual part (if available separately)
must be assigned their own ISMN.
Not until reprinted
under your own imprint, carrying your own name.
What happens to ISMNs that have already been obtained by a publisher but are not yet assigned?
The publisher should continue
to use these until they are exhausted but must convert the number formats to the
new 13-digit standard, prefixed by 979, and replace the M- by 0- (zero). E.g.
ISMN M-345-24680-5 is converted to ISMN 979-0-345-24680-5.
Will new ISMNs have to be assigned to products that have already been published?
Existing ISMNs should be converted from the 10-digit format to the 13-digit format
(prefixed by 979) by 2008. This will apply to records for any title for which
transactions may occur and should therefore include out of print titles as well
as those currently in the catalogue. For barcoded notations: The ISMN and bar
code on notations will not need to be changed until the publication is reprinted
as the bar code already represents the EAN13 which is the same number as the new
May publishers re-use existing 10-digit ISMNs on a new publication adding a 979 prefix?
The addition of a 979 prefix to a previously used ISMN does not make a new ISMN
and for that reason must not be assigned to a new publication.
Will I be able to communicate with trading partners using 10-digit ISMNs by end of 2008?
By 2008 the ISMN will be a 13-digit number and all mechanical
systems will have to be able to accommodate its use in that form. Commercial systems
may not support 10-digit ISMNs after that. In the transitional period, however,
arrangements may be made between trading partners to support both formats.
Will publishers have to change to 13-digit ISMNs or can they continue using the 10-digit ones?
Publishers will have to change all their systems to accommodate
the 13-digit ISMN by end of 2008. It is essential that mechanical systems are
adapted by that date to enable communication with trading partners to continue
If our company still has lots of 10-digit ISMNs, why do we need to reformat them as 13-digit ISMNs?
ISMN standard is changing. The ISMN system drives all trading in the industry
internationally and the allocation of ISMN is organised on an international basis.
Should both a 10-digit and a 13-digit ISMN be printed in a publication?
For notations published in 2008 and after only the 13-digit ISMN should be printed. However, for barcoded titles published after 1 January 2008, publishers should print the 13-digit ISMN in eye-readable form above the bar code on the back cover of their publications, retaining the correct hyphenated structure.
© International ISMN Agency, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org