International ISMN Agency

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




The "Internationale Datenbank f�r Noten und Verlagsartikel" (IDNV, International Database for Printed Music and Publishers' Items) encompasses over 240,000 records of nationally or internationally available printed music. The new database system was designed by DE-PARCON Softwaretechnology and Marketing GmbH in close cooperation with key representatives of the Deutscher Musikverleger Verband e.V. (DMV, German Music Publishers Association), reputable music publishers and retailers. CD-ROM updates of the first edition which appeared in October 2002 will be issued regularly (initially appearing quarterly).

National and international music publishers, retailers, libraries and those with an interest in music have long been demanding a complete, current and reliable reference work. With this digital catalogue, it is possible to research and obtain information quickly and easily. An efficient search engine offers immediate information about composers, songs, titles, prices, ISMNs etc.

The high performance software for the PC has minimal system requirements. The software works alongside most existing IT applications. In the near future it is planned to include additionally multi-media information and web enabling. In particular the eBusiness capability will open up new business to business revenue opportunities in international markets.

For more information about the IDNV click here.

In the last quarter of 2002, four countries have joined the ISMN community represented by the Chambre Nationale du Livre in Chisinau (Moldova), the National and University Library of Kosova in Prishtina, the National Library of Indonesia in Jakarta and the National Library of Estonia in Tallinn. In all cases, the respective ISBN offices have taken over the responsibility for the implementation and maintenance of the ISMN in their country.

The 4th edition of the "Music Publishers' International ISMN Directory" went to print today. The new edition will list over 15,000 music publishers from 91 countries and 400 digital suppliers offering digital material in the Internet. This means an increase of records of about 20 percent compared to the last edition of the M-PIID. Publication of the 4th edition is scheduled for January 2003.

The development of a completely new PIID/M-PIID database software started in 2000. Learning from former experiences with licensing, only OpenSource software ought to be used (apart from the operating system). After some detours and turbulences in the past two and a half years as of October 2002 a beta version of the new software finally reached user testing while the fourth edition of the M-PIID was being prepared.

The new software is being developed under MS Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 and will probably run without changes on Windows XP too. Written in the scripting language Python using the cross-platform OpenSource programme library wxPython, it is relatively easily portable to Linux and, in the near future, Mac OS X.

The new system is extensible and further adaptable to the developing needs of the agency especially regarding the integration and unification of huge numbers of entries from the national agencies. Publisher data is represented in Unicode, meaning no more cryptic surrogate representations for special characters.

Axel Roepke

(For reading the full version of this text, click here.)

After a few months spent preparing the launch of the ISMN in Spain, it started running in March 2002 at the "Centro do Documentación de Música y Danza" (CDMyD), a department of the "Instituto Nacional de las Artes Escénicas y de la Música (INAEM), of the Spanish Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte."

Before the opening of the ISMN agency in Spain, the "Centro de Documentación de Música y Danza" had prepared the database supporting all the agency's operations. The ISMN Users' Manual in Spanish was also edited.

Most of the Spanish music publishers want to have an ISMN identification number because they were used to having ISBN prefixes before. So an important percentage applied for it. At the moment, thirty-three prefixes have been allocated to publishers, amongst which are the most important Spanish ones. These thirty-three prefixes represent fourty percent of the total amount, and we are expecting to receive more applications very soon.

Since last March, 400 music prints (scores, learning music methods, etc.) have been numbered. Because the ISMN has not been operating for very long, the percentage of music prints, which carry ISMNs is not very high. However, there is a lot of interest amongst the music publishers and we can therefore expect a significant increase in the next few months.

Regarding bar coding, all music publishers, who have an ISMN prefix either use it, or are planning to adopt it soon.

In the next few weeks it will be possible to use the Internet to look up information about the ISMN databases of musical editions, editors, etc. Further questions can be sent to the Spanish ISMN Agency:

Torregalindo, 10 
28016 Madrid

Tel: 34 913531480
Fax: 34 913531373

R.R. Bowker, a leading publisher of bibliographic information, today announced the U.S. launch of the International Standard Music Number (ISMN) system, a uniform global standard for identifying all printed music publications available worldwide.

"The ISMN has actually been in existence for a decade and is currently used throughout Europe, but it is just now being officially introduced in the U.S. market by R.R. Bowker, the official ISMN independent agent for the U.S.," said Don Riseborough, Senior Managing Editor of the ISMN. "This global standard allows for fast and unique identification, quick and efficient ordering, and supports all bar coding and point-of-sale systems."

"Bowker has served as the U.S. book publishing industry's ISBN agency since its inception in 1968 and we believe that the ISMN has the potential of having a similar impact on the U.S. music publishing industry," said Michael Cairns, president of New Providence, N.J.-based R.R. Bowker. "We will immediately begin constructing a single database of all printed music publications, enabling simple and efficient searches for any title. This capability distinguishes the ISMN system from all other systems -- such as UPC codes and publishers' numbers -- that are not part of a central, searchable database."

As the independent agent in the U.S. market, R.R. Bowker is now inviting the participation of domestic music publishers in the ISMN system. For more information, go to, or call Diana Luongo at 908/219-0283.

Founded in 1872, R.R. Bowker, a Cambridge Information Group company, is North America's leading provider of bibliographic information, and is also the official agency for assigning ISBNs in the United States. The company's flagship product, Books In Print(R), is available on the Internet at, on CD-ROM and in hardbound print format. The Web-based version of Global Books In Print(TM) is located at For more information, please visit or call 1-888-BOWKER2 (1-888/269-5372).

Books In Print is a registered trademark, and and Global Books In Print are trademarks of R.R. Bowker LLC. Other products and services may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.

The National Library of New Zealand has joined our neighbours Australia and recently signed the contract to act as the ISMN agency for New Zealand. This is now added to our responsibilities for providing New Zealand's ISSNs and ISBNs. As yet our processes are not fully in place but within a short time New Zealand music publishers will be contacted and we will commence issuing ISMNs to them. We are excited to be joining the worldwide fraternity of ISMN agencies and are looking forward to closer contact in the near future.

Deidre McFarland

The National Book Chamber of Armenia which acts as the central depository of all press publications and other printed matters for the whole of Armenia opened an ISMN office in Yerevan.

The first publisher who offers digital sheet music free of charge received an ISMN publisher ID in Australia ( This assigment marks an important step which opens new perspectives for the ISMN and its application in the growing scene of Internet publishers.

During November 2001 the Australian International Standard Music Numbering Agency became operational at the National Library, and began issuing ISMNs to Australian music publishers in December.

The International Standard Music Number (ISMN) is similar to the very familiar International Standard Book Number or ISBN. While ISBNs are assigned to uniquely identify printed and electronic texts, ISMNs serve a similar purpose for scores, anthologies of music, music parts, and texts or lyrics with printed music. Details of all publishers registered with the Australian ISMN Agency are published in the Music Publishers' International ISMN Directory. Australian music publishers can also be located online through the Australian ISMN Agency website.

The opening of the ISMN service for Australia follows a period of planning and the building of an automated system and database to support the day-to-day operations of the national agency. Australian music publishers may now request ISMNs by mail, telephone, fax, e-mail or via the Internet using a Web input form. An attractive illustrated brochure has been pre

pared, and together with a postcard giving information about the agency, this has been mailed to about 200 music publishers, composers and other music related organisations and businesses.

Laurel Paton is the administrative officer in charge of the Australian International Standard Music Numbering Agency, and is assisted by the Library's music acquisitions and cataloguing team. Further information is available by contacting the agency:

Australian ISMN Agency
National Library of Australia
Canberra, ACT 2600

Tel: (02) 6262 1777
Fax: (02) 6273 4322
Web site:

The Australian Performing Right Association (APRA), the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (AMCOS), the Australian Music Centre, a number of Australian music publishers, and the International ISMN Agency have all encouraged the National Library in taking this initiative. Valuable advice and assistance have been provided by the International ISMN Agency in Berlin and the United Kingdom's ISMN Agency.