Labelling Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of the EXPLICIT label?

The label serves a notice to consumers that a particular CD, vinyl record or cassette contains content that may be considered offensive or is unsuitable for minors.

Who decides if a product needs an EXPLICIT label?

ARIA and AMRA members are responsible for determining whether a product requires an EXPLICIT label in accordance with the criteria and guidelines set out in the Code.

What do you need to consider when deciding whether an EXPLICIT label is required?

When you are considering whether a product needs an EXPLICIT label you should think about:

  • the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults;
  • the literary, artistic or educational merit (if any) of the product; and
  • the general character of the product, including whether it is of medical, legal or scientific character.

Context and Impact

You also need to think about the context, intensity, frequency and tone of the content when deciding whether to apply an EXPLICIT label. For example:

  • the lyrical content on a product may have different interpretations and whether the EXPLICIT label is required may need to be considered in the context of the tone of the lyrics (e.g. is the context comedic, hateful, innuendo?) and the musical accompaniment.
  • think about contemporary community and cultural standards. Are some words and themes acceptable now?
  • think about your intended audience and whether the product requires an adult perspective.

The main thing is – you should take a practical and reasonable approach when considering whether an EXPLICIT label is required. Always think about the context, intensity, frequency and tone of the content. If the product required at least a level 1 label under the old Code, then it will require an EXPLICIT label under the new Code.

Where does the EXPLICIT label need to be placed?

  • The EXPLICIT label must be placed on the front of the relevant case (e.g. jewel box or vinyl album sleeve) holding the product, so that it is clearly visible.
  • For locally printed slicks, the EXPLICIT label can be worked into the artwork on the slick.
  • For imported titles with slicks already printed, the EXPLICIT label must be placed on the case or cover of the product. This should be placed even if there is already an overseas warning label printed on the slick.

I am releasing an album. Does the EXPLICIT label that I’m placing on the front of my album need to be a certain size?

The EXPLICIT label must be a rectangular shape with dimensions of 3.5 cm (w) x 2.5cm (h).

Can I change the colour of the EXPLICIT label? Does it need to be black and white?

You are not permitted to change the colour of the EXPLICIT label. It must be black and white only. No variations. The EXPLICIT label needs to be consistent, so it is easily recognisable.

Where can I get a copy of the EXPLICIT label for my album artwork?

Please contact ARIA or AMRA if you need a copy of the EXPLICIT label.

I have a product that uses old classification labels – where can I find more information about them?

Under the revised Code, audio-only products that were released or scheduled for release between 1 April 2003 – 30 June 2020 can retain their old classification labels and do not require re-classification under the current Code. More information about previous classification labels can be found in Schedule A of the Code. Complaints or queries about products using the old classification labels should still be sent to AMRA or ARIA.

Do I need to re-label any releases that have the old advisory labels?

Products classified, released or scheduled for release under the previous version of the Code (from 1 April 2003 – 30 June 2020) may retain the old classification labelling. You do not need to re-label these products.

We recognise that there is going to be a transition period as we move from the old labelling system to the new system. There is no end date to the transition period, but we would like to transition to the new labelling framework without undue delay.

Does the new Code apply to music on digital music services?

No. The Code still only applies to physical products such as CDs, vinyl and cassettes.

However, most digital music services display the word “EXPLICIT” or display the “E” symbol next to songs with potentially explicit content.

Does the Code apply to music DVDs and enhanced CDs?

No. Music DVDs and enhanced CDs (i.e. CDs with a video) are still not covered by the Code. These are still subject to National Classification Scheme and should be classified by the Classification Board in line with the existing process that you are using. Please visit www.classification.gov.au for further information.

Who do I contact if I have a question about product labelling?

If you have a query about the labelling of CDs, vinyl records or cassettes, then please contact ARIA or AMRA by phone, post or email.

Who do I contact if I have a complaint about product labelling?

A dedicated Complaints Handling Service is provided by both ARIA and AMRA. If you have a concern about the content that you have heard on an audio-only recorded music product (including CD, audio cassette or vinyl record) you may contact either organisation at the following:

AMRA
Phone: (03) 9507 2547
Email: complaints@amra.org.au
Postal: Complaints Handling Service, AMRA, MBE 148/45 Glenferrie Road, Malvern, VIC 3144

ARIA
Phone: (02) 8569 1144
Email: business.affairs@aria.com.au
Postal: Complaints Handling Service, ARIA, PO Box Q20, Queen Victoria Building, NSW 1230

Please be aware if you wish to make a formal complaint under either organisation’s Complaint Handling Service, the complaint must be made in writing.

Please include your name, address, contact details, an explanation of your complaint and the details of the product you are concerned about (including artist name, album/single title, record label and where you purchased/heard the recording).

How will my complaint be handled?

After submitting your complaint, you will be sent a letter or email confirming that your query has been received and is being reviewed.

Depending on the nature of your concern, enquiries will be made with the record company, the retailer, or both. You may also be contacted by ARIA or AMRA asking for further information about your complaint.

Within 4 weeks of your initial contact, you will be advised in writing of the outcome of our investigation, including details of any follow-up action taken by a retailer or record company, if appropriate. This 4-week time frame will only be exceeded where it has been impossible to locate the relevant product or where the complainant is not able to respond in a timely fashion to a request for further information.

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome of the complaints process, you have the option of referring the matter to the Labelling Subcommittee. Details on how to refer a matter to the Labelling Subcommittee will be included in correspondence you receive from the Complaints Handling Service.

The Labelling Code of Practice for Recorded Music Product covers physical products containing audio-only recordings. It does not apply to DVDs.

Where a CD contains a visual element (and therefore becomes an enhanced CD) the product will be labelled under the National Classification Scheme and will carry G, PG, M, MA15+ or R18+ labels as required. In these circumstances the National Classification Scheme labelling (G, PG, M, MA15+ or R18+) supersedes the Code, meaning that only the National Classification Scheme label needs to be applied to such product.

If you have questions about a DVD, video or enhanced CD, then you need to contact the Classification Branch at the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications on (02) 9289 7100.

For more information visit www.classification.gov.au.

What if I have a complaint about something I have heard on the radio or a music video that I have seen?

These types of complaints are not covered by the Code.

Any complaints about:

  • A song you have heard on the radio should be directed at first instance to the relevant radio station; or
  • A music video that you have seen on TV should be directed at first instance to the relevant television channel.