Any person or agency which issues notated music to the public, whether for sale, rental, or free, is a music publisher. Self-published music receives ISMN just as music from large, well-established businesses.
There are no costs assessed by the U.S. ISMN Agency for assigning ISMN to American publishers. Publishers themselves are responsible for printing ISMN on the individual items they publish. Publishers should designate a person to oversee use of ISMN in order to manage smoothly the data entry for ISMN and the application of assigned ISMN to their publications.
Data for each item assigned ISMN by the U.S. ISMN Agency will reside in the permanent U.S. ISMN Archive maintained at the Library of Congress.
ISMN once allocated must not be re-used. If a number that has already been used for a title is inadvertently attached to a second title, the number should be obliterated from the second title and a new number generated. The U.S. ISMN Agency will quickly assist publishers to resolve issues around errors in application.
Publisher identifiers are assigned by the U.S. ISMN Agency at the Library of Congress. To ensure that a suitable identifier is assigned, a publisher should provide as much information as possible about current and future publication programs and about backlists of publications still available. Prolific publishers receive short numbers, allowing for more digits to be used for individual music items. Smaller publishers receive longer numbers, the assumption being that they will issue fewer works requiring unique ISMN.
A publisher operating separate and distinct offices or branches in different places should have a publisher identifier for each office or branch.
Using the Online Registration Forms
As a publisher, you will be asked to:
- Provide information about your music publishing activities.
- Provide a valid email address for receiving all ISMN communications. This email address will also serve as your ISMN system Username.
- Create a password, following instructions on the Registration page. This password will be required for all future access to the ISMN system.
- Determine whether or not you would like to have your publisher name and website URL listed in a public Directory of U.S. ISMN Music Publishers.
Upon approval of the U.S. ISMN Agency administrator, you will be issued an ISMN publisher identifier. This will allow you to proceed to the Item Registration Form for registering individual music publications for the 13-digit ISMN.
Log in to your account using Username (email address) and Password.
If you have already registered and require a change to your publisher entry, you may do this yourself. Click on the "Imprint/Publisher" name. The form containing data you provided previously will appear. Make required edits directly in the form. Be sure to click on "Apply Changes."
Log in to your account and click on Register Items.
For each individual music publication you will be asked to:
- Provide basic information (title, date of publication, number of pages, etc.).
- Provide optional descriptive data, adding searchable terms to the record.
- Print or email the formatted record, complete with its ISMN, for your files.
If you have already registered an item and require a change to your entry, you may do this yourself. Log in to your account and click on the "View Items" icon. Select the title of the item requiring change by clicking on the icon at the far left (blue paper and pencil). The form containing data you provided previously will appear. Make the required edits directly in the form. Be sure to click on "Apply Changes."
You may NOT make changes in the ISMN itself. Contact the ISMN administrator for assistance with number changes.