International ISMN Agency

The International Standard Music Number for Notated Music.
A System for Publishing, Distribution and Library Practices




The ISMN Users' Manual for the new standard that will be used from 2008 will be available on this website as a pdf document by early 2008

The International Standard Music Number (ISMN) is based on an ISO International Standard that was first published in 1993 as ISO 10957. 
ISO 10957 specifies the basic structure of an ISMN, the rules for its allocation, and the administration of the ISMN system. ISO 10957 is currently under revision to deal with changes to the ISMN system. For further information concerning the project status of the revision please contact the following URL:

Copies of ISO 10957 will be available for purchase from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and its national member organizations.

It is expected that by January 2008 the ISO TC46 SC9 vote on the ISMN Draft International Standard (DIS) will have approved positive and the revised Standard will have been published both in English and French. 
One of the most important features of the new version of the Standard is the transition from 10 to 13 digits. In practical terms it means that the initial "M" will be replaced by 979-0 while the check digit will remain unchanged.

- Axel Roepke, our long time database administrator suddenly died. For more than 15 years he had worked for the ISBN and ISMN publisher directories. We will miss his kindness, advice and great expertise.

- IFLA Conference in South Africa. ISMN report given at the Conference of Directors of National libraries.

- Finalizing of ISMN DIS.

As of 1 July 2007, Dr. Ulrich Wegner left the International ISMN Agency. Carolin Unger, who had already worked for ISMN in the 1990ies and, since 1991, for the International ISBN Agency is his successor .

"ISMN News - ISMN Panel On May 31 and June 1, 2007, the annual ISMN Panel took place in Oslo, Norway, by kind invitation of the National Library of Norway. It also served as the Annual general meeting of the newly formed ISMN association (International ISMN Agency). 
The proceedings will be published in the form of a newsletter, as usually. 
Two subjects will be mentioned here already in order to speed up the flow of information: 

- ISMN Revision 
The ISMN Standard ISO 10957 has been under revision for some time. On March 30, 2007, the voting period for the ISO CD ended, and it turned out that vote was 100% positive. A number of countries made numerous remarks and suggestions, and on May 9, 2007, in the context of the ISO TC46 meeting at Santiago de Compostela, Spain, an ad hoc working group chaired by Hartmut Walravens (International ISMN Agency) answered the comments and amended the CD. As a result, the amended version was forwarded to the SC9 secretariat, and ISO TC46/SC 9 resolved "that CD 10957, Information and Documentation, International Standard Music Number (ISMN), as modified by the descisions of the Ad Hoc Group meeting held 2007-05-09, should be advanced to the Enquiry stage for distribution and voting as DIS 10957 by 30 June 2007." 
The French colleagues promised to have the required French translation ready by that date. This is a big step forward, and it is now the time to alert the ISMN and the user communities that hopefully by the end of this year the official implementation of the revised standard will be an urgent task. This means that ISMN agencies should develop strategies to spread the news in their respective countries, inform the music publisher organisations, distributors and wholesalers, teleordering systems, software developers, and, of course, the music libraries about this development. This is particularly important as by the extension to 13 digits ISMN will even more obviously than so far use the 979 EAN prefix, and many users worldwide may consider this simply a wrong number - they expect ISBN to start on the 979 contingents some time in the future, and they may not be aware that 979 is also used by ISMN. So in order to avoid obstacles to electronic transactions it will be very important to make this very clear to all user communities. 
When in doubt please contact the International ISMN Agency. 

- Membership Dues 
The Panel approved the proposed list of membership contributions after careful consideration. It was agreed that the combination of the criteria of overall annual music publications and the GNI (purchasing power of a country) were a suitable way of determining the quota. If members are unhappy with the published data they are asked to contact the International ISMN Agency and provide more reliable data and their sources. 
The ISMN Panel resolved: 

The General Assembly resolves: 
The annual membership fee of a member country or region of the Internationale ISMN-Agentur e.V. will be calculated on the basis of (1) the output of editions of printed music in a certain year, and (2) the figure for the Gross National Income (per capita, method Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)) for the same year. A multiplication of both figures leads to a number which is to be matched with the following payment ranges:


Output x GNI

































Figures will be updated on a yearly basis. 
All members have to pay membership fees without exception as stated in the Statutes. If for economical reasons they are unable to pay, the Internationale ISMN-Agentur e.V. will investigate each individual case and the General Assembly will decide on further procedures. The same applies when objections are raised against the amount of the contribution. 


On 31 May - 1 June the 15th ISMN Panel meeting took place at the Nasjonalbiblioteket of Norway. At the same time, this was the 1st meeting of the ISMN General Assembly, following the regulations of the new association structure. The participants were kindly invited by Berit Holth, head of the Norwegian ISMN Agency who had organised the meeting splendidly. 
The main topic of discussion was, of course, the ISMN revision process and the calculation of membership fees. Also, there were two very interesting reports, one from Hilde Holbaek-Hanssen, senior Advisor of the Music Information Center MIC on "MIC in Norway - Coping with a lack of Domestic Music Publishing Industry". The other report was given by a representative of the music publishing company NOTAM, a production centre for work with sound in music, research, education and mediation. 
A detailed report about the meeting will be published in the ISMN Newsletter No. 17. For an update on the ISMN standard revision process and the calculation of membership fees see June 2007 .

The ballot for the committee draft of ISO 10957 ended on 31 March and yielded full approval, except for some minor editorial comments regarding proper grammar, terminology etc. In May, an ad hoc working meeting in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, with colleagues from ISO, Geneva, took place and revised the Committee Draft by addressing all comments.

The National Library of Singapore decided to introduce the ISMN in Singapore and registered as the national agency as of 1 April 2007. Singapore is the third Southeast-Asian country to join the ISMN community.

The Internationale ISMN-Agentur e.V. moved from the State Library Berlin - Prussian Cultural Foundation - to a new office. The address is: 

Internationale ISMN-Agentur e.V.
Schlossstr. 50 
12165 Berlin 
Fon +49-30-7974 5002 
Fax +49-30-7974 5254