International Standard Music Number

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Logo of the German Institute for Standardization DIN ISO 10957
Area Information and documentation
title International standard number for music
Brief description: ISMN
Latest edition 12.1994
ISO 10957

The International Standard Music Number ( ISMN ; German  "International Standard Music Number" ) is based on the ISO - standard 10957; it is used for the worldwide identification of music notations in printed or digital form. An ISMN does not identify the work itself, but rather its various manifestations (e.g. editions from different publishers , score , study edition, piano reduction, etc.).

History of origin

The standard was designed based on the international standard book number (ISBN). With a number standard supplementing the ISBN, an attempt was made to take account of the fact that the music market is structured differently from the book market and can therefore only be insufficiently served with the ISBN.

The initiative to create a unique identifier for music came from the UK section of the International Association of Music Libraries, Music Archives and Music Documentation Centers (IAML). The ISO standard was adopted in December 1993. Today the ISMN is used in 48 regions and countries. The international ISMN agency is located at Schloßstraße 50 in Berlin-Steglitz .

Structure of the ISMN

The ISMN has (since January 1st, 2008) a thirteen-digit format that is divided into four sections:

Example: 979-0-2306-7118-7

The ISMN always begins with the prefix 979-0. This makes it distinguishable from the ISBN.

The next number block (here: 2306) designates the publisher, the following number block (here: 7118) a specific sheet music edition from this publisher. The final digit (here: 7) serves as a check digit. The check digit is a mathematical aid that allows the correctness of the sequence of digits to be checked automatically. The check digit is generated by a computer.

Depending on the size of the publisher, the publisher ID can contain 3 to 7 digits, the product ID 5 to 1 digit. Both number blocks must together always have 8 digits (i.e. 3-5, 4-4, 5-3, 6-2, 7-1).

The ISMN originally consisted of the prefix "M", followed by a nine-digit sequence of digits that corresponded to the structure already mentioned. The changeover to the new thirteen- digit ISMN is relatively easy to accomplish: only that was replaced Mwith the prefix 979-0, whereby the check digit can remain unchanged.

The Music Publishers' International ISMN Directory lists all music publishers worldwide who use the ISMN.

The ISMN can be issued together with a barcode.

Checksum calculation

The checksum of the ISMN is calculated like that of the 13-digit ISBN ( i.e. GTIN - formerly “EAN”). The individual digits (including the check digit) are added, whereby all digits in the even position are multiplied by 3 beforehand. If the sum is divisible by 10 without a remainder, it is a valid ISMN.

For the above example (979-0-2306-7118-7) that would mean: 9 + 3 * 7 + 9 + 3 * 0 + 2 + 3 * 3 + 0 + 3 * 6 + 7 + 3 * 1 + 1 + 3 * 8 +7 = 110. Since 110 can be divided by 10 without a remainder, the ISMN is valid.

Identification numbers for other publications

  • ISAN - International Standard Audiovisual Number
  • ISBN - International Standard Book Number
  • ISRC - The International Standard Recording Code
  • ISRN - International Standard Technical Report Number
  • ISSN - Information and documentation - International Standard Serial Number (for periodicals)
  • ISWC - International Standard Musical Work Code


  • DIN ISO 10957 (German-language edition of ISO 10957).
  • ISMN Users' Manual (PDF; 936 kB) Revised edition preliminary version. International ISMN Agency, Berlin 2008.

Web links