Ever since "explicit lyrics" warning stickers were introduced in 1985,
artists have been only too happy to have their albums labeled, figuring kids
who want graphic material will see the sticker as incentive to buy the disc.
Following that reasoning, surely they'll welcome the latest move from the
BMG Music Group, which is getting explicit with the explicit lyrics
Starting July 31, discs on the group's BMG, RCA, J and Arista imprints will,
when necessary, include "parental advisory" stickers updated with additional
warnings about strong language, violent content or sexual content.
The first disc to contain the new labels will be Lady May's May Day,
which comes out July 31 on Arista and will include warnings of strong
language and sexual content.
In addition to upcoming releases, previously issued albums will be affixed
with updated advisories when new pressings are made, a BMG spokesman said.
Pressured by lawmakers' condemnation of sex and violence in the media, BMG
had been engaged in internal discussions regarding warning label updates for
some time. Two years ago, then-BMG Entertainment President Strauss Zelnick
encouraged additional industry policing of its products in order to provide
parents more information about the music their kids are listening to.
The company's chairman and CEO, Rolf Schmidt-Holz, announced BMG's expanded
parental advisory policy on Monday (June 3) and emphasized that the move
will be beneficial both to artists under fire for creating explicit music
and to consumers.
"BMG recognizes our dual responsibility to help parents make informed
decisions about the entertainment their children consume and to protect the
right of our artists to express themselves freely," he said in a statement.
"Our labeling initiative will offer parents additional tools to help them
decide what is appropriate for them and their families."
Spokespeople at Warner Music Group and Sony Music Group have said they're
satisfied with the current parental advisory labels. Spokespeople at EMI
Music Group and Universal Music Group were not available for comment.
A source at the Recording Industry Association of America, which drafted the
original warning label system, said the organization wants to preserve the
existing program. RIAA President Hilary Rosen has asserted that lyrics are
open to interpretation, and what one person views as sexual or violent might
mean something completely different to someone else.
The battle for record labeling began in 1984 when a group called the Parents
Music Resource Center, headed by Tipper Gore, wife of former Vice President
Al Gore, expressed outrage at explicit content on albums by artists like
Twisted Sister, 2 Live Crew and Frank Zappa. At the conclusion of heated
Senate hearings on the issue, the RIAA adopted the current "parental
In recent years, Vice President Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne Cheney, Sen.
Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut), Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and others
have re-administered explicit-content thumbscrews, citing acts like Eminem
and Cannibal Corpse as heinous corrupters of today's youth.