Any of you dealing with books knows about the ISBN standard. It’s really neat, you could do generic lookups of books and find the data on amazon. Or, if you use bookmooch, a nice service I recommend, when you place out books for the service, you just type in the ISBN number and you get all the relevant info from Amazon and similar services. Wikipedia also has a similar nice integration system for listing books based on the ISBN number.
So, what about songs and music tracks? The only official standard I know of is the ISRC standard. If you run a record label and don’t have an ISRC base number, get one now, it takes a short time and is free, and you could then use your record label identifier to create more ISRC numbers. After this you could identify each track by the ISRC number.
There are some commercial distribution sites that use ISRC (even enforce using it), but it’s not that common. This is a shame, as if ISRC — or a similar system — was widespread, Web 2.0 developers could write all kinds of really nice services. For example, if review blogs had the ISRC number listed, a smart system could find places wherefrom to purchase or download the music based on scanning through the blog entry. Just now such systems have to do intelligent data scraping and trying to identify the source based on artist and title, an even harder job as many titles and even artist names are reused over and over.
Something even more interesting would be if the ISRC number was embedded inside the mp3 or other digital formats, maybe even part of the audio track info, so removing or messing with the ISRC number would cause severe audio hickups. At least, if MP3 files had a default id tag with a unique identifier and enforced data entry — so they are valid — it would be a start. Alas, I don’t know how many burn in the ISRC number into their digital audio files.
Some CD audio tools such as wave burner makes it possible to burn in the ISRC value into the audio track itself.
Various performing rights organizations such as BMI also have their own special coding systems for registration of songs.
Anyway, my point is that if the book industry managed to standardized on a uniform way to identify books, the record industry should at least try to do the same, as the benefits would be huge. Until something like this happens, I’m trying to place ISRC numbers on all the releases.