When I decided to release some solo piano singles instead of my usual full albums, I thought it would be best to have a couple of releases ready to go before I launched the first song. So I selected two tracks among my latest compositions, named the songs, and sent the audio files and meta data to the mastering company as my final production step before distribution.
Included in this meta data for each song is a unique identifier called an ISRC code. This code helps the various music entities track the performance metrics of the sound recording. A mastering studio can embed this code in the master files that they generate for CDs. It’s also included when releasing music through a digital distribution company. In my case I have my own ISRC code prefix, but in many cases artists can obtain the actual ISRC code through their distributor.
A simple mistake on my part became quite a hassle in the music distribution process. I released my single called Solus with the proper code and everything was fine. But a month later I released my second single titled Outer Light using the exact same ISRC code. I think I copied the first code and forgot to update the last digit in my distribution meta data. I discovered my error a little more than a week before the release date, but I was unable to resolve the issue due to a series of miscommunications or misunderstandings with my distributor’s support staff. We initiated a cancellation order for the song, but not in time to prevent the song from going public on the scheduled release date. The song released with the duplicate ISRC code, but I expected it to be removed within a few days.
What I didn’t see coming was that Spotify would select my second single for one of their editorial playlists. When I received the news, my heart sank knowing that the song was scheduled for deletion. I didn’t want to lose the momentum provided by the playlist.
As a special intervention on my behalf, the distributor canceled the Outer Light cancellation and allowed me to remove the first single instead. This allowed Outer Light to retain its playlist activity while giving Solus the opportunity for a second birthday. Today is that day!
I am thankful to the people who helped me resolve this issue. You can be sure I will be checking my ISRC codes twice in the future!