International ISMN Agency

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




The systematic review of the ISMN standard which takes place every four years resulted in eleven members voting in favour of confirmation and five members voting in favour of a revision of the standard. Therefore, ISO 10957 could not be confirmed. The TC46 / SC 9 secretariat requested the International ISMN Agency as the Registration Authority to decide on the appropriate course of action. This request paved the way for the International Agency to initiate a revision process which is supposed to lead - in accordance with decisions made at the 12th ISMN Panel Meeting in Berlin - to a new 13-digit format of the ISMN.

From December 1 on, the Iran Book House (Khan-e ketab) in Tehran will function as the new Iranian ISMN Agency. The contract was signed during the ISBN panel meeting in Berlin. The Iran Book House is of central importance for the publishing market in Iran, has been organizing exhibitions and conferences and administering the ISBN since 1994.

The text of the CD-ROM publication "ISMN. The New Standard"--available in English, French, German, Spanish, Czech, and Serbian - was enlarged with an additional chapter on ISMN applications.

The 2004 edition of the "Music Publishers' International ISMN Directory" appeared at the end of 2003. Although the MPIID had been conceived as a yearly publication, K. G. Saur publishers decided to refrain from a 2005 edition for two reasons: first, the copies of the 2004 directory did not sell as expected and, second, the International ISMN Agency had to declare that it is not in a position to finance all editorial work for the publishing house any more. Negotiations about the future of the MPIID were scheduled for 2005

The 12th International ISMN Panel Meeting took place in Berlin on May 3, 2004, by invitation of the International ISMN Agency. The venue was the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preußischer Kulturbesitz.

In a round table discussion ("The First Ten Years of the ISMN. Retrospects and Prospects"), music librarians, music publishers and ISMN representatives critically reviewed the progress the ISMN has been made during the last decade. In two major contributions, Brian Chesser and Berit Holth informed about music databases, catalogues and Internet applications at the British Library and in Norway respectively. Will the ISBN standard revision necessitate a major change of the ISMN as well? It was discussed if - like ISBN - the ISMN should change to 13 digits using the EAN prefix 979 in order to harmonize the two similar identification systems and avoid practical problems. The participants consented unanimously in favour of this proposal.

Post-panel activities on May 4 included a guided tour of the Deutsche Musikarchiv (DMA) in Berlin and the German National Broadcasting Archives (Deutsches Rundfunkarchiv, DRA). For a detailed report about the meeting's presentations and discussions in ISMN Newsletter No. 14 click here. For a picture gallery click here.

A new flyer introducing the International Standard Music Number was published by the International ISMN Agency. A PDF version is available for download here.

Ten years ago, at the end of 1993, the new standard for printed music was published by ISO in Geneva, after draft versions of the standard text had been processed by ISO working groups at a fast pace. Since then, 44 countries or regions have joined the ISMN system, and 1,700 publishers of printed music are applying the number world-wide. For the future, it is expected that new applications which smoothly integrate a given ISMN into editorial, pre-print and distributional workflows will further underline the importance of this standard and its potentials.

The CD-ROM published by the International ISMN Agency ("ISMN. The New Standard") was supplemented by a version in Serbian.

The fifth edition of the MPIID appeared at K. G. Saur Publishing in Munich. First published in 1996, the MPIID serves as an indispensable tool for the market of printed music world-wide. The 2004 edition of the directory offers an increase in data of about 20% compared with the last edition. Addresses and contact numbers of 17,800 publishers in 99 countries are listed, among them 1,700 digital suppliers.

Khazar University in Baku decided to introduce the ISMN in Azerbaijan. The university's Library Information Center (LIC) plans to build a national bilbiographic database of all music prints in Azerbaijan based on the Khazar University electronic catalogue. With this digital catalogue, it will be possible to research and obtain music information quickly and easily. An efficient search engine will offer information about composers, songs, titles, prices, ISMNs, etc.