International Standard Music Number (ISMN)
(international standard) An internationally recognized code used in the identification of music publications. The ISMN is similar to the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) system for the identification of books. The ISMN identifies all printed music publications, whether available for sale, hire or free of charge–whether a part, a score or an element in a multi-media kit.
The original ISMN consisted of four elements comprising ten digits: 1) a constant , to distinguish it from other standard numbers, 2) a publisher prefix which identified a certain music publisher, 3) a title number which identified a certain publication and 4) a check digit which valadated the number on a mathematical basis.
The new ISMN format also consists of four elements: 1) the prefix 979-0 which represents ISMNs, 2) a block of numbers to identify a specific music publisher, 3) a block of numbers to identify the published item, and 4) a check digit.
Items to be given an ISMN include:
Scores, miniature (study) scores, vocal scores, sets of parts, individual parts when available separately, pop folios, anthologies, multimedia when printed music is a part of the kit, song texts or lyrics when published with the music, song books (optional), microform publications, braille music publications and electronic publications.
Items not to be given ISMNs include: Books on music, stand-alone sound or video recordings and serials.
Benefits of the ISMN system include: fast and unique identification, allows quick and efficient ordering and tele-ordering, speeded up distribution, creation of a music trade directory, Music in Print, support for bar coding and electronic point-of-sale systems and support for a variety of computer applications.
The International Agency is responsible for the maintenance of the ISMN system, the standard and its application. Publishers prefixes are distributed on a national or regional level by ISMN agencies. Publishers usually administer their own contingents of title numbers as received from the ISMN agency.
ISO Standard 10957 gives basic rules of the ISMN system. A more explicit ISMN Users’s Manual is available free of charge from the International ISMN Agency. Contact: International ISMN Agency; Schlossstr. 50; 12165 Berlin, Germany; Tel.:  (30) 7974 5002; Web: http://ismn-international.org.