What is the Standard Musical Work Code? How does it work?

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Edit: Correction, the International Standard Musical Work Code

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The ISWC (there what you’re referring to) is an 11 digit code which you can use to track music which you write and record.

When you compose and record an original musical work, you can register the music with a performing rights society, such as ASCAP or BMI.

Once you register, you will get the code, which you can enter into the metadata field when you encode your music as an mp3 or other similar file.

If someone – for example, a producer of a TV commercial – then uses your music, the computer algorithms which recognize that your music is being used can track the music by the ISWC and report the music being used to your performing rights society. You can then receive credit and royalties for your music being used in that commercial.

Before the ISWC, you would have to do this by paper documents: listen to the music being used, calculate how much of the music was used (how many seconds), and type up a cue sheet with your name and the name of the composition and how it was used. You can still do things that way, but the ISWC makes it easier.