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ISMN Newsletter No10

International ISMN Agency
ISMN Users' Manual
International ISMN Directory
Other Publications
National ISMN Agencies
ISMN Ranges
Panel Meeting


2. Reports of Group Agencies



Susanne Sugar reported that music publishers and distributors had a common organisation. Due to this many music publishers stopped using ISBNs for their products.

The Danish Agency has allocated all in all 40 publisher identifiers of which 7 are five-digit and 33 are six-digit identifiers. These 40 publishers made use of altogether 610 ISMNs. It means an almost 100 % increase of the assigned item identifiers compared to last year, when the total was 340.



There are about 1000 music publishers in the German speaking area. As the German ISMN agency started its work very early and probably was the first agency to assign numbers at all so far about half of them have joined the system. These publishers number all their available items i. e. including their backlists. This process has lasted some time depending on the companies, whether they could do this electronically or by hand. Nevertheless now about 150,000 titles are registered with an ISMN and are represented on the Music in Print CD-ROM. Advertising the ISMN system is difficult and lengthy because the publishers want to know the relation between costs and advantages. The remaining 500 publishers that have not yet joined the system are small ones. For them the benefits are not self-evident. This is contrary to the ISBN system where the publishers easily see the advantages the system offers. To improve the acceptance of the ISMN system Mr. Müller developed an electronic system for the music trade on the basis of the ISMN. He hopes for a rationalising effect comparable to that of the ISBN system. At the moment many publishers use the EAN bar code including the ISMN. But so far they mainly use it for rationalisation inside their publishing houses.

Since the music trade is much more international than the book trade it is of a disadvantage that important music markets on a worldwide scale are without an ISMN as an efficient rationalisation tool. The international community has to push the introduction of the number, so that all the publishers who use ISBNs could be won over to use ISMNs (also for their backlists).


Deutsches Musik Archiv (DMA)

Dr. Ingo Kolasa, director of the German Music Archives, observer at this meeting, pointed out that it was not easy for the DMA to get legal deposit copies. There were more than 40 major music producers of printed music, and maybe 50% of the legal deposit comes in automatically. The music archive was established as part of the German Library (Deutsche Bibliothek) in 1970. Its predecessor was called «Deutsche Phonothek». In 1973 the legal deposit law was introduced for music and sound-carriers by the association of music producers and music publishers.

Three times a year the DMA publishes a CD-ROM with all their data. They are hoping to make this data available via the Internet during the course of this year. The current software that is used by the DMA is an adaptation from the library system PICA. It was developed in the Netherlands.
The DMA acquires 24,000 sound-carriers and 7,500 items of sheet music from Germany, Switzerland and Austria, altogether they amount to 35,000 parts annually. Because of the staff situation within the DMA it is not possible to catalogue them all at the moment.

Dr. Kolasa pointed out two special features of the DMA: They retrospectively collect printed music and sound-carriers. They have one of the biggest collections of shellac records in the German speaking area, now 155,000 records which are listed in a special database published as part of the National Bibliography of Music (together with the Buchhändlervereinigung).
The second thing is the Bonner Katalog für Reversgebundene Leihmaterialien (Bonn Catalogue of Hire Material). The 2000 edition is the last one in printed form. Thereafter it will be published only on CD-ROM. It contains 75,000 items from currently 270 publishers, which makes it an indispensable tool for the music industry. Many publications may not be on sale anymore, therefore it is so important to have them available for hire.



Akira Tanaka was sorry to tell that the situation in Japan had not much improved. The biggest problem was the recognition of music publishers. Another problem was the situation regarding publishing rights. This led to a situation where many publishers produced the same title. Mr. Tanaka hoped that the respective law would be put away already this month and then the situation would definitely change.

He asked for the International Agency's strong cooperation and support for his organisation to become the ISMN agency in Japan. He mentioned that his organisation had a big budget whereas the Japanese MPA had no interest in sheet music, no budget and no staff. Although Mr. Tanaka was chairman of the copyright committee of the MPA he alone was not able to prepare the ground for the introduction of ISMN. As discussed last year a concerted action, perhaps an ISMN seminar in Japan, might lead to a breakthrough.



As Berit Holth let the participants know the system was functioning very well in Norway. There were about 1,000 titles published per year. All major publishers had ISMN (a total of 28 publishers). The directory was accessible on the Internet as well as on CD-ROM. There were a few publishers that had got a large contingent of numbers and then did not publish any longer before having used one of their ISMNs. In these cases Ms. Holth assigned the ISMN prefix to another publisher. The ISMN was free of charge in Norway. The e-mail address of the Norwegian ISMN agency was The agency published a Norwegian user's manual. Currently the legal deposit regulations required seven copies of the publication, but Ms. Holth considered five copies as sufficient.



Portugal is according to Catarina Latino a very small music producing country. There are only 5 music publishers, and apart from Musicoteca, the biggest publisher, all others are very small. There is only an output of 20-25 new editions each year. Ms. Latino has translated the ISMN users' manual into Portuguese. It will be made available also in the ISMN homepage of the International agency, which should be launched in the near future.



The ISMN agency was established last year. 13 publishers joined the system so far. The production of printed music in Slovenia is very small. The biggest problem is to get the legal deposit. Alenka Kanic hoped that the ISMN would help in that matter. As Lois Clark wanted to know why legal deposit could be a problem, Dr. Walravens explained that while most countries of the world featured legal deposit legislation many publishers did not consider it important and did not hand in the copies. Especially music scores might be rather expensive. Then the national libraries preferred to buy the material instead of wasting time and money on court cases.



The ISMN in Spain has just been established within the Ministero de Cultura and there on the premises of the Dance and Music Documentation Centre. Mr. Antonio Álvarez points out that the majority of music publishers promote the ISMN. There are approximately 50 music publishers, mainly based in Madrid and Barcelona. At the moment the ISMN contract with the International agency is studied closely.


United Kingdom

Lois Clark expressed her delight to hear about the intention of Bowker to become US agency. In the UK there were 80 music publishers with ISMN prefixes. Some time ago she sent a circular to over 100 music publishers to advertise the ISMN. There was a mixed reaction. In the UK the major publishers have already contingents of ISBN which are therefore considered free of charge (current service charges are, however, similar to ISMN). For ISMN publishers have to pay a fee (depending on the number of title numbers needed: e.g. 20 £ plus VAT for 10 numbers, 700 £ plus VAT for 100,000 numbers). Therefore and for historical reasons publishers prefer to use ISBNs. The music shops instead want to see ISMNs, they want to use the bar code for stock ordering systems. The UK ISBN agency is helpful, new applications from music publishers are directed to the ISMN agency.



As Michael Cairns had indicated before Bowker was going to become the US ISMN agency. They were very close to implementation, probably in the first half of 2000. At the moment they were educating themselves where large publishers were in order to prepare the statistics. They intended to contact the key people in their market and assemble as many data as possible in a very short time to insure a good acceptance of the system.



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