A pilot scheme is kicking off this Friday which will trial adding age ratings to the start of online music videos. Vevo has already voluntarily committed to putting age ratings at the front of its video catalogue, with the UK arms of Sony, Universal and Warner Brothers all also voluntarily agreeing to the scheme. YouTube, by far the biggest video hosting platform, is also onboard, but has stated that technical challenges in implementing age ratings may delay a rollout.
It's a scheme that will be overseen by the music industry body the BPI, using ratings made familiar by the British Board of Classification, and is designed to protect younger viewers from violent and sexually explicit content that can sometimes slip under the radar. Initially, only artists signed to UK labels will be affected, so eyebrow-raising clips from the likes of Nicki Minaj (above) or Miley Cyrus will remain unchanged for now.
In any case, big red "12", "15" or "18" video ratings wont appear at the front of clips anytime soon -- as the video hosting sites prepare their catalogues for any potential changes, viewers are unlikely to notice anything different until at least the end of the year. Even then age ratings may not become a permanent fixture, as is the nature of any trial. But this can only really ever be a good thing -- children will be protected from inappropriate content, while music video directors will be freed to work on any adult-themed clips that they desire, safe in the knowledge that their videos will be appropriately classified.