The recording industry today agreed to place warning labels or print lyrics on album covers to aid parents who want to know if their children are buying songs with explicit references to sex or violence.
The inscription will read "Explicit Lyrics--Parental Advisory."
The record companies will decide what constitutes explicit. There are no guidelines.
"What's explicit is explicit," said Stanley M. Gortikov, president of the Recording Industry Assn. of America.
Those singers whose contracts give them control over the design of the album cover are free to ignore the understanding.
Record companies may skip the special advisory if they print the exact words on the album cover.
Since there is no room for lyrics on a cassette, a statement "See LP for Lyrics" will substitute for companies that decide on the lyric option.
The recording industry group, the National Parent Teacher Assn. and a group of parents called the Parents' Music Resource Center announced their agreement at a news conference here.
"We welcome all aids to parenting," said Pam Howar, president of the parents' group that includes the wives of several members of the Washington political establishment.