Who decides whether a record should be labelled "Parental Advisory"? Are there any agreed-upon standards? If not, what individuals in the production chain are the people who actually decide whether a record should be labelled as such?


Parental Advisory (abbreviated PAL) is a warning label first introduced by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 1985 and later adopted by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) in 2011. It is placed on audio recordings in recognition of excessive profanities or inappropriate references, with the intention of alerting parents of potentially unsuitable material for younger children. The label was first affixed on physical compact discs and cassette tapes, and it has been included on digital listings offered by online music stores to accommodate the growing popularity of the latter platform.


Interestingly, the PAL logo is now seen as a badge of honour so kids seek out albums with this label, so, in a way this labelling has backfired somewhat. So much so that some bands specifically add explicit lyrics to get the sticker !

In most decisions, the decision that a particular sound recording should receive a PAL Notice is made by each record company in conjunction with the artist. In certain situations, a third party owner of an audio visual product may determine whether the audio visual product receives a PAL Notice. The industry as a whole and its individual companies take this program seriously.



You can thank Al Gore's wife Tipper for the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), the group that originally lobbied to have these records labeled.

For extra credit, youtube the statements by Frank Zappa and Dee Snider at these hearings. I think Tipper thought that all musicians were drug-addicted idiots. Dee and Frank proved to be incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable, and Zappa subsequently had some epic battles on many political talk shows at the time against people who thought they were going to be shooting fish in a barrel.


The initial request can come from anywhere in the production chain, to my knowledge.

I flag my own releases to the record company, on a track by track basis - they pass on the flag to iTunes etc.

When I first did it I was surprised that all tracks ended up being flagged, but I wasn't at that time aware that one flag on one track flags the entire album.

  • Both iTunes and Spotify show only the tracks reported as explicit as explicit for our releases, so I guess it depends on how the aggregator service/record company reports the tracks. (It probably doesn't hurt that the non-explicit tracks are in Swedish :)). – Meaningful Username Feb 28 '15 at 12:46
  • Do the tracks constitute 'an album'? afaik, if it is an album, the entire album is flagged if any track is. Sure I read about it somewhere, but can't recall where right now. – Tetsujin Feb 28 '15 at 13:48
  • Yes, it's an album. Only the tracks reported as explicit are marked, but the album has an parental advisory tag on iTunes. Which makes sense, since you can't buy the album without getting the naughty tracks. But it seems reasonable that you can buy the standalone tracks that aren't marked as explicit. There are albums containing clean versions of some songs, for the purpose of consumption by minors. – Meaningful Username Feb 28 '15 at 15:06
  • For some reason, all tracks on my album are marked 'E' even the ones that aren't, except the ones tagged Radio Edit, which are the ones with the naughty words ducked. – Tetsujin Feb 28 '15 at 16:34

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