Take a look at the top five songs on Apple Music. As the time of writing, all but one have an explicit rating (thank you Harry Styles). A peek at Spotify shows three of its top five flagged with explicit ratings.
Listeners can see whether a song or album has an explicit rating if they spot an ‘E’ next to the listing. The Recording Industry Association of America uses this to help parents recognize the music could contain inappropriate content. Recording artists or a record label may use this parent advisory if a song includes strong language or depictions of violence, sex or substance abuse.
Some songs will also come in a clean version, but not all. Of those five chart-topping songs on Spotify, the three with explicit ratings all also had clean versions. Two of the top five on Apple Music had no option other than the explicit one. And Amazon Prime Music listeners didn’t have an explicit song listed in its top charts until #22.
While these examples may say something about what demographic is listening to which streaming service, they definitely show there is a need for some parental oversight when it comes to music streaming. Fortunately all three music services provide ways for moms and dads to filter out some of the content they may not want flowing into their kids’ ears.
Spotify points out on its website that when it comes to rating something explicit, that it relies on the information received from those who hold the rights to the music. In other words, the filter isn’t perfect. But once users turn off the ability to play explicit content, any music tagged as such is grayed out. Listeners won’t be able to play the songs and the app will automatically skip them. To enable this feature, users can go to Home>Settings>Explicit Content>Allow Explicit Content and toggle it off.
If users pay for and manage a Spotify Premium Family plan, they can allow or block anything with an explicit tag for any other member in the plan. Managers can log in to their Premium Family page and click on any member to filter their content by tapping “Remove explicit content”.
Spotify does make it easy to search for clean versions of explicit music.
Users will need to head to Screen Time to manage explicit content for themselves or for other accounts they manage. Listeners can go to Settings>Screen Time>Content & Privacy Restrictions>Content Restrictions to make the change.
Apple Music explains this will help prevent the playback of music, music videos, podcasts, news and workouts containing explicit content.
Users can search for clean versions of songs in Apple Music, but it sometimes takes a lot of scrolling to find them.
Amazon Prime Music
Amazon Music says on its website that it’s continually working to improve and refine its filter to block as many songs with explicit lyrics as possible when enabled. And while the explicit rating should include a lot of songs with mature content according to the RIAA, Amazon Music’s explanation differs, saying it only flags language. Just another heads up to parents to keep open communication with their kids since these filters won’t catch everything.
The opportunity to block explicit songs is the first option under Settings. Listeners can also enable the feature by asking Alexa to “block explicit songs” or “stop playing explicit songs”. If users set the filter on an Echo device, Amazon Music blocks explicit songs on that plus any other Echo devices tied to the account. Note the block will not work for every music service, but only for Amazon Music, Pandora or TuneIn. Parents should also know there is no way to lock the setting, but it can only be disabled via the Alexa App. So only people in in the household with access to the Alexa app can turn off the explicit filter.
While these options to block explicit content are not foolproof, they can be a good first step to prevent music with objectionable content from finding younger ears.