What are ISRC codes and CD-Text?

ISRC Codes

Sometimes I got panicking calls from clients after they received their PMCD just because the info shown on MediaPlayer or iTunes are all wrong.

In most cases, there is no need to panic!

When you put an Audio CD into a CD player, two things happen:

a) The CD player (or media software installed on a computer) reads the P and Q sub-channels and
b) it also reads the ISRC codes (if present).

These codes are handed over here in the UK by the PPL and they identify each individual tracks.
This is very handy to collect royalties when these tracks are aired on TV or Radio.

But, if the computer is not connected to the net or if the ISRC codes are not present on the CD, this could lead to unpredictable outcomes.


When a CD s is inserted, iTunes will access the ISRC codes and an online database called Gracenote. If iTunes doesn’t find a match (because of no internet connection or no  ISRC codes) then it will get “creative” by fishing out some completely random info!
You might be a Black Metal band and iTunes shows your info as One Direction!


Windows Mediaplayer gets its infos from Allmusic. Unlike iTunes, Mediaplayer will show a “Artist Unknown” if ISRC codes are either not found or not registered yet.


CD-Text is written on different sub-channels from the one used for the ISRC codes. Unfortunately not all CD players can read them (the ones that can, will normally have a logo on the front).
Now this is very important:

iTunes and Mediaplayer will completely disregard them!

  • This is why, most of the times, when wrong info are displayed on iTunes or Mediaplayer, it is not necessarily a sign of neglect by the Mastering studio. CD-Text will only be read by CD-Text enabled devices who boast this logo or similar

  • cd-text

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