Extracting Metadata from ISWC codes


Would there be a tool available somewhere to extract metadata from ISWC codes?

From what I’ve been able to find thusfar an ISWC boils down to containing the following:

T (the “prefix element”), followed by nine digits (the “work identifier”), and a numeric check digit.

Somewhere there might be a relationship between the digits and the composers and other relevant data.

It’s pretty straitforward with ISRC codes, so I wonder why not with ISWC’s…

No, there is not. ISWCs (unlike ISRCs) don’t have an internal structure. The number is just a number.


Someone wrote me that they were able to see in an “ISWC code that it must have been created several years ago”. Maybe there is some kind of date embedded in a way, but then again, perhaps I was misinformed.

Another quoting http://www.iswc.org/en/faq.html :

What is the descriptive metadata for an ISWC?

The descriptive metadata for an ISWC includes:

the title of the work
all composers, authors and arrangers of the work identified by their IPI numbers and role codes
the work classification code (from the CIS standards list)
in the case of 'versions', for example arrangements, identification of the work from which the version was made."

Perhaps that info is irrelevant and already displayed in the iswc database regardles of codes.

Well, yes, that’s possible because the numbers are used somewhat in order (although there are exceptions, jumps, parallel use of multiple sequences, …). For example, the first ISWC that was assigned was #1 (T-000.000.001-0), famously used for ABBA’s Dancing queen.


I think that’s just “the info you need to give us so that we give your work an ISWC, and will be displayed in whatever work database”.


I agree with @chirlu and @reosarevok that the ISWC Work number is just a unique number, given to a composition (“work”) that has been legally registered by the composer at his/her national organization. It does not contain any meta data like IPI numbers, at least not in my country (Netherlands). Though: if you know that unique number, the national organization of the composer, can find the title of the work and its composer. And I assume, that in near future, you can look up the number in an international database and find the work title and composer :slight_smile: Maybe there even is already such a database? Perhaps another member knows?

Oh and perhaps interesting for you to know, in my country the work number has not the prefix T but the prefix W :slight_smile: and, after the 9-digits work identifier number no numeric check number follows, in my country.

And yes @smokeonthewater with the ISRC Recording number it is different: it has meta data: the first 2 characters represent the country (for example US) then the next 3 characters represent the unique code of the producer given to the producer by his/her national organization (for example R3G) and the following 2 digits must represent the year of the production (for example 16 means 2016) and then the last 5 digits represent in order of production the number of the track that was produced, so in this example e.g.
And, in some notations, the - is left out, so: USR3G1600024

There is: MusicBrainz.


hahahaha :blush: how stupid that I didn’t think of that myself! @Freso you are so very right!!! :smile: :wink: :sunny:

So happy to have Music Brainz!! :heart_eyes:

hmmm, @Freso how long does it take for a work, to show up in the database? I looked for 012171506 (it has been registered) and in the selection box selected “work” but it cannot be found? Yet?

Some of them do contain IPI codes, like France’s DB, SACEM.

Take a look at the following list of work databases.

The main international database is the first one on the list http://iswcnet.cisac.org/ as this seems to be the master database for iswc codes.
If it is not found there you still may be able to find the work entry in one of the other databases.

You can go to iswcnet and do a search based on an iswc number to find the record of the song and who wrote it
For example search for T-061.141.514-5 and you will find writers and thair ipi numbers (Interested Party Information), this is typically the writers but this can sometimes include music label information.

If you can find someone’s ipi number you can do a search based on this and find other songs they have written and be able to add that information to musicbrainz.


Depends on how long it takes for an editor to add it.


Thank you @dns_server for explaining so well :slight_smile: It is a really nice database, and such a pity, that apparently my national organization is not or very behind in entering data there, because as a test, I tested my own IPI number and nothing comes out, and I also tested some of my own work numbers and titles that I registered in 2015 but nothing comes out either… Then I tested with Titles and Creator’s Name some works of a really well known artist here in the Netherlands, but still, nothing comes out in the database

I can see your full name in the ascap and buma databases and can confirm that your ipi number is correct.
There are 14 songs that come up when searching your name in the buma database but there is not a lot of information there.

The information does vary between databases.
When looking up Australian artists in the apra database the writer field is truncated to 20 characters so you typically only get the last name and maybe a first initial.
Most of the time this is enough information to start searching the other databases as I can search the cisac, ascap and bmi databases by title and last name to find the full name and work id.


@dns_server thank you for providing such valuable information! Looking up Dutch artists in the American ASCAP never occurred to me, but it does work :slight_smile: Apparently the Dutch BUMA signed up to ASCAP to let them collect all artists IPI’s. I was disappointed about the BUMA yesterday, because I even could not find very well known artists, but now am happy again that I can find them at ASCAP (still I think I will write to BUMA to ask if they can let us know on their website, that the IPI’s of our national artists are available in ASCAP).

Now that you explained, I understand @dns_server that all databases work differently, and sometimes (like in Australia) even only give 20 characters, but you are right, with that info one can find composer and work :slight_smile:

Thanks @dns_server !!

As far as I know all IPI’s come from Switzerland, so if you see an IPI in ASCAP or at another collection society the number you see would have been “Made in Switzerland”.

The list is very helpful. I have a few pro search engines more to add. What’s best way to do this?

The documentation is on a wiki but the version shown in the documentation is an edit tagged as approved.
Edit the wiki page https://wiki.musicbrainz.org/Work then get someone to flag this as a good edit so it shows in the documentation

Thank you so much @smokeonthewater for that information! :slight_smile:

@chirlu it seems sequential in a way. The screenprint snippet comes from PRS. I guess T.911 stands for PRS, maybe that breaks the code somewhat if it’s there at all.