Take a look at the top five songs on Apple Music. At the time of writing, all but one have an explicit rating (thanks Harry Styles). A look at Spotify shows three of its top five reported with explicit ratings.
Listeners can see if a song or album has an explicit rating if they spot an “E” next to the listing. The Recording Industry Association of America uses it to help parents recognize that music might contain inappropriate content. Recording artists or a record label can use this parent warning if a song contains foul language or depictions of violence, sex, or drug addiction.
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 had clean versions as well. Two of the top five on Apple Music had no choice but the explicit one. And Amazon Prime Music listeners had no explicit song listed on its top charts until #22.
While these examples may say something about which demographic listens to which streaming service, they clearly show that there is a need for parental oversight when it comes to music streaming. Luckily, all three music services offer ways for moms and dads to filter out some of the content they might not want getting into their kids’ ears.
Spotify emphasizes on its website that when it comes to rating something explicit, it relies on information received from those who own the rights to the music. In other words, the filter is not perfect. But once users disable the ability to play explicit content, any music marked as such is greyed out. Listeners will not 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 disable it.
If users pay for and manage a Spotify Premium Family plan, they can allow or block anything that has an explicit label for any other member of the plan. Managers can log into their Premium Family page and click on any member to filter their content by tapping “Remove Explicit Content”.
Spotify makes it easy to find clean versions of explicit music.
Users will need to head to Screen Time to manage explicit content for themselves or other accounts they manage. Listeners can go to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions to make the change.
Apple Music says this will help prevent music, music videos, podcasts, news, and workouts that contain explicit content from being played.
Users can search for clean versions of songs in Apple Music, but sometimes it takes a lot of scrolling to find them.
Amazon Prime Music
Amazon Music says on its website that it is 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 many songs with mature content according to the RIAA, Amazon Music’s explanation differs, saying it only flags language. Just another tip for parents to keep communication open with their kids, because these filters won’t catch everything.
The ability 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 it and any other Echo device linked to the account. Note that blocking will not work for all music services, only for Amazon Music, Pandora or TuneIn. Parents should also be aware that there is no way to lock the setting, but it can only be disabled through the Alexa app. So only people in the household with access to the Alexa app can turn off the explicit filter.
While these options for blocking explicit content aren’t foolproof, they can be a good first step in preventing music with objectionable content from finding younger ears.