I’m gonna cuss on the mic tonight

The declining relevance of physical media for audio has led to a declining relevance of printed parental advisory labels:

Parental warning logos are set to be introduced before songs and music videos on services such as Spotify and YouTube that contain explicit material, following recent concern about the amount of risqué music content too easily available to children online.

Music industry body BPI is to update its 15-year-old Parental Advisory Scheme – which is responsible for the well-known warning symbol appearing on CDs, DVDs and records with strong language, sex or violence – to “bring up to date what happens on the high street to the digital age”.

It’s an interesting attempt, but of course the thing they can’t replicate is the one thing that makes the sticker most useful (to the extent that it is) — the parent as physical intermediary in the consumption of media. A label that can be seen while the parent is making the purchase on the child’s behalf, or that the parent might notice when seeing a surreptitiously purchased CD sitting on the kid’s bookshelf, is much more noticeable than a warning that plays before a streamed song or an icon that appears next to a download button. If parents aren’t physical intermediaries anymore, solutions based on physical sensations (sights and sounds) aren’t going to work. I’m a little surprised they’re not jumping straight to a technological solution, like the parental access codes that are commonplace on TV receivers.

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