Sex, drugs, rock and roll: Too much for pop videos?

Jessie Ware performs at the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival in Indio, California.

Story highlights

  • New age ratings only apply to UK-produced videos -- so raunchy artists such as Miley Cyrus are unaffected
  • British rapper Dizzee Rascal's machete-wielding "Couple of Stacks" video has been rated 18

(CNN)British music artists such as Calvin Harris and Jessie Ware may have to rethink how risque they come across in their online videos.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) and the BPI, which represents the UK music industry, have collaborated with various record labels, Vevo and YouTube, to display age ratings on music videos deemed unsuitable for children.
    A government-backed pilot study took place last year for six months, which saw three major UK record companies -- Sony Music UK, Universal Music UK and Warner Music UK -- submit content to the BBFC which were likely to be inappropriate for children under the age of 12.
    The BBFC then issued either a 12, 15 or 18 rating, in line with their classifications, which include drug misuse, dangerous behavior presented as safe, bad language, sexual behavior and nudity, threatening behavior and violence.
    To date, 132 music videos have been submitted by UK labels to the BBFC and only one has been given an 18-rating -- British rapper Dizzee Rascal's murderous, machete-wielding "Couple of Stacks" video. On YouTube, the rating means that the video will not automatically open in the browser, bringing up a "Content Warning" overlay requesting that you sign in and confirm your age. After that, providing you are over 18, you are asked to confirm that you understand the video is "inappropriate for some users."
    Content warning for Dizzee Rascal's "Couple of Stacks" video on YouTube
    Independent research commissioned by the BBFC showed that up to 60% of children aged 10 to 17 watch music videos that they do not think their parents would approve of.
    "Parents taking part in our most recent review of the BBFC Classification Guidelines in 2013, expressed their concerns about the content of music videos online, in particular their role in the sexualisation of girls and portrayals of self-harm, drug use and violence in some music video content," David Austin, BBFC's Assistant Director, said in a statement.
    YouTube said that the ratings are in addition to their users being able to add their own age warnings to videos they upload and a safety mode enabling parents to screen out unsuitable content.
    "At Vevo we support artists and their creativity, however, we understand the importance and value that age ratings provide parents and music fans to help inform their viewing, enabling them to make choices about what content they wish to watch," Nic Jones, EVP International at VEVO, said in a statement.
    However, the guidelines do not apply to music videos created outside of the UK -- so notoriously raunchy artists such as Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke are unaffected. "Not sure of the point of giving music videos age ratings if it only applies to those that are made in the UK," commented one Twitter user.
    Some also wonder how effective the restrictions will be. "Interesting decision to put age-ratings on music videos... because children aren't known for ignoring age-restrictions online are they," tweeted Charlene White.
    "... music industry knows this is online cat-nip click bait to under 18 's & will boost sales," says another wary tweeter.
    The British government added that they would work with the music industry to "look at how lessons learned in the UK could help international partners who share our concerns to adopt a similar approach."