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RIAA Creates Task Force

Cooperative group with NARM seeks to alter marketing trends cited by FTC

May 8, 2001 12:00 AM ET

Following the Federal Trade Commission's report that accused the music industry of marketing products it labeled as explicit to children, the Recording Industry Association of America announced plans to join with the National Association of Recording Merchandisers to create a new Parental Advisory compliance task force.

The new team hopes to accomplish a three-part goal in response to the FTC's findings. First, they hope to ensure that parental advisory stickers will be clearly visible and legible in print media advertisements. Secondly, they wish to have the label prominently displayed at multiple points during online music purchases, from the initial search function through the checkout portion. The third point is to offer links from online retail to www.parentalguide.org, a site which offers more information on the Parental Advisory program.

"We are committed to making the system we have be as effective as it can be," RIAA president and CEO Hilary Rosen told Rolling Stone, though she rejected the belief asserted by Senator Joseph Lieberman that a more stringent labeling system might be needed. "Even in the FTC's own survey, seventy-four percent of parents are satisfied with our system."

"We have supported the Parental Advisory program since its inception, and we welcome the opportunity to work with the RIAA on improving it," said NARM president Pam Horovitz. "We take our responsibility to parents very seriously. We are committed to supporting the work of the joint talk force in ensuring that all aspects of the Parental Advisory program work well, particularly the newest guidelines which relate to the Internet."

Though the statement regarding the task force targeted the music industry's breaches of print and Internet-based marketing, there was no mention of any plans with regards to television advertising. According to the FTC's reports, advertisements for albums by Crazy Town, Ja Rule, DMX, Blink-182, Rage Against the Machine and other recordings with the Parental Advisory label were advertised regularly on MTV during after-school and early-evening time slots.

Rosen will next meet with the major record companies and ask them to offer a representative to monitor the progress and compliance of the task force's goals.

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“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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