All adults in Australia should be free to listen to whatever they wish. However, it is important to balance this freedom of choice by providing consumers with sufficient information so that they can make informed purchasing decisions about products that they may find offensive or products which may not be suitable for minors.
Since 1996, Australia has had a voluntary code which provides a framework for advising consumers about potentially explicit or unsuitable content on recorded music products (i.e. CDs, vinyl records and cassettes). This code is called the Labelling Code of Practice for Recorded Music Product Containing Potentially Offensive Lyrics and/or Themes (the Code). The Code is jointly managed by ARIA and the Association of Music Retailers Australia (AMRA).
When the last version of the Code was implemented in 2003, music streaming services did not exist, and music download services were in their early stages of development. The new Code and the single EXPLICIT label are aligned with the classifications used by online music services and it is simpler for record companies, music retailers and the public to understand.
In this section, you can view details of the Code, view lists of labelled products and titles, and find answers to frequently asked questions.
On 1 July 2020 a revised Code came into effect, which removed the 3-tiered labelling system with a simple, streamlined single label to be applied to all audio-only products that contain ‘explicit’ content. Click here to view the Code.
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. More information about the previous tiered classification labelling scheme can be found in the Code.
Users of music streaming services would be familiar with the “E” symbol or the word “EXPLICIT” that is displayed next to tracks that include or potentially include explicit content.
Under the revised Code, where an audio-only recorded music product is considered to potentially have ‘explicit’ content, the following label is to be applied to the front cover of the product:
This label serves a notice to consumers that the product contains lyrics that may be considered offensive or in particular, may be unsuitable for minors.
In accordance with the Code, ‘Explicit’ could potentially apply to content that includes:
There are some products that include content that is too gratuitous to be given an EXPLICIT label. These recordings are not permitted to be released and/or distributed by ARIA members or sold by AMRA members. This includes products which contain lyrics which promote, incite, instruct, or exploitatively or gratuitously depict:
Find the lists of the titles (as notified to ARIA) that have been classified/re-classified in the link below.
Find more information about labelling at Labelling FAQ.