Parental Advisory is a notice to consumers that recordings identified by
this logo may contain strong language or depictions of violence, sex or
substance abuse. Parental discretion is advised."
The above logo and language represents a notice to consumers posted in record retail stores across America. It is intended to inform the public about the label that they will see on a particular recording. First and foremost the application of a label by the record company and artist must be consistent with this information.
The use of the Parental Advisory Label is not a determination of whether a recording is or is not appropriate for particular listeners. Rather, the non-removable label is a “heads up” to parents (and consumers, retailers and wholesalers) that parental discretion is advised when purchasing the particular recording for children or when listening to the recording in the home.
It is obviously not possible to define each individual situation in which a recording company should apply the Parental Advisory Label; however, the following issues should be considered in making a determination regarding application of the label.
• Context is obviously important: some words, phrases, sounds, or descriptions might be offensive to parents if spotlighted or emphasized, but might not offend if merely part of the background or not a meaningful part of the lyrics.
• The context of the artist performing the material, as well as the expectations of the artist’s audience, is also important. In addition to profanity, “depictions of violence, sex, or substance abuse” must be considered when making a determination regarding the application of the Parental Advisory Label.
• Lyrics are often susceptible to varying interpretations. Words can have different meanings. Also, words cannot be viewed in isolation from the music that accompanies them. Lyrics when accompanied by loud and raucous music can be perceived differently than the same lyrics when accompanied by soft and soothing music.
• Labeling is not a science; it requires sensitivity and common sense. Context, frequency, and emphasis are obviously important; isolated or unintelligible references to certain material might be insufficient to warrant application of the label.
• These guidelines apply to the case of a single track commercially released as well as to full albums (whether released in the form of a CD, cassette or any other configuration) (collectively “albums”).
Once the determination is made that a recording warrantsa Parental Advisory Label, the label is to be plainly displayed in a nonremovable form on the album cover. In general, the label is placed on the bottom left corner of the album cover itself (not the cellophane wrapper). The precise positioning decision, however, is made on a case-by-case basis, depending in large part on the particular design and color of the artwork presented on the album cover, so that the Parental Advisory Label will be visible.