Code of Practice.
ARIA and AMRA administer an industry Code of Practice for labelling CDs and other recorded music products containing lyrics and themes which may offend some sections of the public.
The Code and the advice label placed on recorded music products are designed to assist consumers in selecting their purchases and for providing advice to parents.
There is one warning label used with audio-only recordings (CDs, vinyl, cassettes, downloads).
The Explicit label applies to content that includes:
You can find more information in the Labelling Code Information Sheet for Record Labels and in the Labelling Code of Practice for Recorded Music Containing Potentially Offensive Lyrics and/or Themes.
Who Decides What Needs a Warning Label?
On 1 July 2020 the industry code of practice was revised to align with the framework used by online providers of recorded music.
The nature of the law in Australia mean that the Recorded Music Labelling Code of Practice only covers audio recordings. If there is any video content included then it falls under the National Classification Scheme.
Any music broadcast on radio or television is covered by regulation administered by the ACMA. Music included in a movie is also covered by the National Classification Scheme. Music played in a retail store is not covered by any code of practice and it is the responsibility of the store manager.
How Do I Classify a Work?
In the first instance, there is a Labelling Code Information Sheet for Record Labels and the Labelling Code of Practice for Recorded Music Product Containing Potentially Offensive Lyrics and/or Themes. This should provide all the guidance needed.
The Code of Practice is voluntary and has been administered by ARIA and AMRA since 1996. ARIA and AMRA provide free advice to anyone seeking guidance on how to classify a work and free access to the artwork for the label. Free training sessions are also held on a regular basis for label managers and other interested parties at recorded music companies.
What If a Work is Mislabelled?
If you think the product shouldn't have a warning label or that there ought to be one and there isn't, please contact us so we can pursue it.
How Do I Make a Complaint?
To make a complaint contact ARIA or AMRA, which will ask for details including title, artist, and (if relevant) where and when purchased. To contact AMRA the phone number is 03 9507 2547 or by email to our CEO, Ian Harvey.
What Happens With a Complaint?
In the first instance AMRA or ARIA will register your complaint and listen to the work to identify whether there is an issue. If there isn't, then we will advise the person who complained that in our view the work complies with the Code and also advise them that if they disagree they can request that their complaint be escalated to the Labelling Subcommittee.
If AMRA or ARIA agrees that the work is inappropriately labelled or unlabelled, then it is taken up with whoever was responsible for making sure the work was appropriately labelled. This is usually a recorded music company, but can also be a musician or band or artist manager (if they distribute their work directly) or a retailer (if the work was directly imported).
When a complaint is upheld there are two objectives:
Each year a report is provided by ARIA and AMRA to the Classification Office (part of the Commonwealth Attorney General's Office) outlining activity in educating the industry and handling complaints, and if necessary recommendations are made for revising the Code. This report is tabled in the Senate and any company which breaches the Code is named and recorded in Hansard.
Where Can I Go for More Information?
The two documents cited on this page are the primary sources for information. They are the Labelling Code Information Sheet for Record Labels and the Labelling Code of Practice for Recorded Music Product Containing Potentially Offensive Lyrics and/or Themes.
You are also welcome to contact Ian Harvey, Executive Director of AMRA on 03 9507 2547.