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Oh Fudge! Keeping Song Lyrics Safe to Play at Businesses

Posted by John on April 12th, 2017

We are often asked if the music we provide for businesses is screened for content. Are the lyrics safe? Have the curse words been taken out? Do you play explicit content?

Screening songs for f***, s***, b**** and other highly offensive words is part of the daily music curation process here at Custom Channels. More and more artists are including expletives in their lyrics than in past decades. Great songs by popular artists can still have a word that isn’t appropriate for public setting. Songs won’t get added to our system unless they’re clean — no inappropriate language.

How do the explicit words get taken out?

Most often we can get what’s known as a “radio edit” that comes from the label or band. Radio edits are what gets played on FM broadcast radio stations in order for the stations to be FCC compliant. Producers have either edited out the words or the singer sings a different line. A classic example is Steve Miller’s song “Rock’n Me” when he sings “…funky kicks going down in the city”. Only on the album version it isn’t kicks.

These clean versions are either furnished to Custom Channels at no charge by the label or we buy clean versions from iTunes, Amazon, eMusic or other online retailers.

If there is no clean version or radio edit, or it’s not a good edit, or doesn’t go far enough, we’ll do an edit ourselves to purge the word while keeping the music intact. We don’t use a BEEP tone (too alarming). We skillfully edit the music to blend beats or swap words. It’s hard to notice where an edit takes place when we’re done with it. If you don’t know there’s a dirty version you won’t miss the word or know lyrics have been edited.

Sometimes we’ll choose to simply not play the song if it’s filled with profanity. Editing some Top 40 and Hip Hop songs would riddle it with edits every few words and comprise the enjoyment of the song.

There is a danger for businesses with using music services that are primarily designed for and used by the mass consumer market. Those services play lots of songs that include explicit lyrics. F-bombs could drop at any time on popular or obscure songs.

We are designed for solely for business use, not consumer use. Clean songs are important to Custom Channels because it’s important to our clients.

Hearing profanity in a song playing at a business or in any public setting is not acceptable by 99% of business owners. Still, I have been in two businesses in past two years, a liquor store and a coffee/wine bar, where explicit lyrics seemed to be the music theme of the day with a whole lotta swearin’ goin’ on.

Occasionally we’ll hear from a client that song we played has a curse word. We check and find our version has been edited. We know the album or spotify version HAS the word so what may happen in these cases is that the listener who hears the song knows the regular version that has the expletive and so assumes that’s what they heard us play. They fill in the blank themselves. “Oh, I know that song and they swear in it” — but not in our version.

Bottom line: Custom Channels screens songs for inappropriate lyrics and bad language. We do our utmost to make sure a $%*#! doesn’t get sung loudly in a business.

 

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