Record buyers: Prepare for sticker shock. For the first time since ”Parental Advisory” labels were introduced in 1985, the stickers will be redesigned to specify what kind of objectionable content a CD contains – profanity, violent lyrics, or sexually explicit lyrics. (Drug content and hate speech are apparently still to be kept under wraps.) The move is a unilateral one by the Bertelsmann Music Group, the major label that distributes BMG, Arista, J, and RCA records. The other four major labels have not indicated that they will follow suit. The first disc to earn one of the new stickers will be the July 31 Arista release of rapper Lady May’s ”May Day,” whose sticker will cite the album’s strong language and sexual content.
”BMG recognizes our dual responsibility to help parents make informed decisions about the entertainment their children consume and to protect the right of our artists to express themselves freely,” said CEO Rolf Schmidt-Holz in a statement. ”Our labeling initiative will offer parents additional tools to help them decide what is appropriate for them and their families.” Plus, it’ll help kids looking for explicit content to find the kind that they’re looking for – though that’s probably not what BMG has in mind.
Bertelsmann’s other big move: forcing Napster to declare bankruptcy. The beleaguered file-sharing service filed for Chapter 11 protection Monday under the terms of its proposed acquisition by Bertelsmann, which announced two weeks ago an offer to buy the company for $8 million and forgive its own $91 million loan to Napster. That doesn’t mean the service, offline since last July, is dead; Konrad Hilbers, the Bertelsmann exec-turned-Napster CEO, called the filing a ”new beginning” for the company, which he hopes to relaunch in some form. Plus, in cyberspace, no one has to worry about Parental Advisory stickers. Not yet, anyway.