I have to admit, about 6 months ago I was ignorant to the world of ISRC’s but after finding Musicbrainz and helping out and learning about all these new identifiers (ISRC, ISWC, IPI etc.) I thought cool I’ll add them where-ever possible to try and reduce the large amounts of “duplicate” recording entries we have.
However it would seem the dear record companies do not want to make this easy. First of all, you’re lucky if you have them encoded onto the CD at all. I understand that pre-2000 it’s pretty much a low chance this will happen, but even after its not always guaranteed. Independent labels, magazine cover mounts or promotional stuff almost never has them encoded, so I stick to checking post-2000 big label releases.
But it seems that even the big boys (Sony, Universal, EMI, Virgin etc.) cannot grasp it.
Some fun scenarios I have found so far:
Made up ISRC’s with strange numbers that do not appear in any database
The same ISRC applied to multiple tracks on a release, however it only relates to one of the tracks (Sony was the culprit)
All but one or two recordings have an ISRC
ISRCs for live or studio recordings being the wrong way round (so a studio recording has a live ISRC, vice-versa)
ISRC’s having a different duration (not by seconds, but by minutes) in the ISRC databases to that on the CD
ISRC’s for radio mixes being applied to album versions
Just a mini-rant, I know this was going to happen when I did my inital read up that record labels (who surely use the ISRC identifier?) are pretty terrible with them but I felt like letting some steam off.