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When using any app, it’s helpful to understand its symbols and features. Developers and designers use icons to make navigating the app easier, but it can still be confusing at times. For example, you may have seen an E symbol on some songs in Apple Music. Ever wondered what it means? What does the little E mean in Apple Music? Let’s take a look.

What Does the E in Apple Music Mean?

When you see the symbol E on certain songs, it means that the content is Explicit. This means the original version of the song might include things like swear words, references to violence, or strong language.

It might be frustrating for adults who just want to listen to a good song, but the E symbol is important for keeping the platform running smoothly and protecting younger users from potentially inappropriate content.

What’s the Difference Between a Song With an E and One Without It?

The same song can be listed twice on Apple Music, with one version labeled as Explicit (with an E) and the other version not labeled, which means it’s clean or censored. The Explicit version contains original lyrics that may include profanity, references to violence, or strong language, while the other version has been edited to remove explicit content.

So, if you see both in the list, consider whether there are children present and those who prefer not to listen to explicit language or themes. If that’s the case, go for the unlabeled song.

To make songs suitable for a wider audience, artists use various methods:

  • Censoring techniques — Explicit language can be obscured using techniques like bleeping, muting, or reversing the audio to maintain the song’s flow while hiding offensive words.
  • Rewriting lyrics — Sometimes, artists rewrite certain parts of the song to remove explicit language or references. This involves changing specific words or phrases to make them more family-friendly.
  • Alternate recordings — Artists may record alternative versions of certain lines or verses with cleaner language.
  • Instrumental sections — Instead of including explicit lyrics, producers add music parts to keep the song’s structure and rhythm intact.
  • Content removal — In extreme cases, entire verses or sections of a song may be removed to eliminate explicit content and make it suitable for a broader audience.

Who Rates Music as Explicit E on Apple Music?

This labeling is done by the artists, record labels, or content distributors when they upload their music to the streaming platform. The decision to mark music as Explicit lies with the artists and those involved in the production and distribution of the music. It’s part of a broader industry practice to inform listeners.

From a legal standpoint, it’s not required but a voluntary practice. Legal regulations regarding explicit content typically focus on other forms of media, like movies or video games, rather than specifically on music.

Does Every Explicit Song Have a Clean Version?

Not necessarily. Some explicit songs have a clean version available, but it’s not guaranteed for every explicit song.

It’s a good thing for artists or their labels to provide an alternative version of the song without explicit language or themes. However, not everyone chooses to release clean versions of their songs. It ultimately depends on the preferences and decisions of the artists and their teams.

How to Restrict Explicit Content

You can control what content is played and accessed by restricting explicit music and certain ratings for music, movies, TV shows, and apps. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings and select Screen Time.
  2. Tap on Content & Privacy Restrictions, then choose Content Restrictions.
  3. Customize your preferences for each type of content under Allowed Store Content.

You can restrict:

  • Ratings — Choose the country or region to apply relevant content ratings automatically.
  • Music, podcasts, and news — Block explicit content in music, music videos, podcasts, and news.
  • Music profiles and posts — Stop sharing what you’re listening to or see what others are listening to.
  • Movies, TV shows, books, apps — Block with specific ratings.

Now, when you see an E on Apple Music, you won’t be able to play the explicit content (unless you reset the restrictions).

How to Enable Explicit Content

Let’s say your iPhone probably has restrictions in place that prevent you from listening to explicit content on that device and you want to change that.

To check, follow these steps:

  1. Go to Settings → Screen Time. If you don’t see the option to Turn On Screen Time, it means it’s already enabled, and content and privacy restrictions might be enabled too.
  2. Scroll down and select Content & Privacy Restrictions → Content Restrictions.
  3. Under Music, Podcasts, News, & Workouts, make sure Explicit is selected.

How to Set and Change Content Restrictions on the Web With Parental Controls

There’s also the option to control what content is accessible on Apple Music through the Parental Controls settings through the browser. Here’s how to personalize it:

  1. Go to → your account icon in the top-right corner (it resembles a photo or monogram) → Settings.
  2. If prompted, sign in using your Apple ID.
  3. Under Parental Controls, activate Content Restrictions with a simple toggle switch.
  4. Create a special four-digit code to protect your settings. Click Continue and confirm the code.
  5. Provide a recovery email address for passcode retrieval, and click Continue.

For future adjustments:

  1. Return to Settings on and sign in if needed.
  2. Input your four-digit passcode under Parental Controls.
  3. If you forget your passcode, use Forgot Passcode and follow the instructions sent to your recovery email.
  4. Modify your settings as desired:
  5. Change what content is allowed by picking ratings for music, TV shows, and movies.
  6. Edit your recovery email by clicking Edit, entering a new email, and clicking Continue.
  7. Change your passcode by choosing Change Passcode, entering the old one, picking a new one, and clicking Continue. Confirm it.
  8. To remove all restrictions, switch off the restrictions toggle.

About Parental Advisory

The Parental Advisory label on the iTunes Store is defined by the Recording Industry Association of America. It serves as a caution to consumers regarding recordings that may contain explicit language or portrayals of violence, sex, or substance abuse. It’s not about deciding if a recording is appropriate or not, but rather a reminder for parents to use their judgment when buying music for children or listening at home.

Factors like cultural norms, individual parental preferences, and the context of the music are all considered before applying the label. Lyrics can be interpreted differently, and how they’re presented, along with the music, matters too.

Applying the label isn’t a straightforward process because it requires sensitivity and common sense. Along with looking at specific words or themes, their context, frequency, and emphasis also play a role. These guidelines apply to individual tracks, full albums, and music videos.

What’s the Difference Between Parental Advisory and Explicit Labels?

An album or song can have both the Parental Advisory label and be marked as Explicit. In fact, it’s quite common for albums to have both labels when they contain content that includes explicit language or themes that may not be suitable for all audiences.

What does the E next to a song mean when it’s mixed with a Parental Advisory? It doesn’t really change anything, as they both convey similar meanings, just in slightly different ways. The Parental Advisory label serves as a general warning, while Explicit specifically indicates that the content contains explicit language or mature themes.


The E symbol on Apple Music acts as a warning of explicit content, which helps listeners make informed choices about their music selections. It’s important to know what the symbol means and adjust your settings to customize your music experience the way you like it. Enjoy the tunes.