YouTube has decided to begin assigning ID numbers to creators using the International Standard Name Identifier (ISNI) initiative, which may be enough to other distributors to begin adopting the system as well. The platform will share ISNIs with its label and publishing partners in an effort to promote the standard.
ISNI is the ISO-certified global standard number for identifying millions of contributors to creative works and those active in their distribution. According to the ISNI website, “The mission of the ISNI International Authority (ISNI-IA) is to assign to the public name(s) of a researcher, inventor, writer, artist, performer, publisher, etc. a persistent unique identifying number in order to resolve the problem of name ambiguity in search and discovery; and diffuse each assigned ISNI across all repertoires in the global supply chain so that every published work can be unambiguously attributed to its creator wherever that work is described.”
In essence, it works like this, again from its website. “ISNI is an ISO standard, in use by numerous libraries, publishers, databases, and rights management organizations around the world. As an open standard, ISNI is not a proprietary “walled garden” – it is diffused widely on the open web, and is a critical component in Linked Data and Semantic Web applications.
The ISNI database is built from many databases worldwide, and based on linking through matching algorithms. ISNIs are assigned when there is a high level of confidence in matching new names to existing names in the database.”
The idea here is that a unique ID number will help artists with identical or similar names stand out from one another. This will not only help get paid, but help fans find the appropriate creator during a search.
It’s commendable that YouTube took the first step here. While there are already 15 other listed registering agencies, most are national libraries that are registering documents and printed works. YouTube dwarfs them all in reach and social authority, and its presence might be enough for the rest of the music industry to sign on.