How to Tag Songs so Google Play Music Recognizes Them as Explicit

UPDATE: I tried adding “(Explicit)” to the title of explicit songs to one album and this appeared to work now. I will test further with more tracks. I have found that adding “(Explicit)” to the album tag does not work. Please comment if you tried this and what your experience was.

Disclaimer: After following these steps for about 150 songs, I found 3 or 4 that were still censored. This may not be the fix I thought it was but it worked for most tracks.


I love most of what Google does and offers. I was excited to see their music player and streaming service Google Play Music All Access come to life. I was an early adopter for this product and saw how much it has changed in the past couple of years. It’s not perfect, sometimes even frustrating. One of these frustrating moments is with regard to how music is tagged. Digital music contains metadata called ID Tags which contain the song title, artist, album title, and other information. If something is incorrect, then a music player will display it incorrectly. This matters because Google has introduced a new feature for Google Play Music at least a year ago that has as many benefits to the end user as it does frustration. The new feature aims to read the ID Tags in your music and grant you access to the songs recognized by these tags from Google’s library instead of your own. It saves bandwidth, time, and offers 320 kbps quality music to the end user (this could be an upgrade in quality for many people). If Google doesn’t have some songs in their own library, then it uploads the version you have in yours.

The problem with this is the fact that a lot of music people own is explicit, but not tagged as such. Because of this, Google assumes these tracks are clean edits or radio edits. Many people have expressed their frustrations over finding their entire music library censored and I am one of those frustrated customers. Google’s only solution to the problem is to right click the censored track and choose “Fix incorrect match” from within the Google Music web interface ( This forces Google to upload the track in your library and ignore the one from Google’s library. This means you lose the higher quality song if your version is lower than 320 kbps, you have to manually do this for each track, and it takes significantly longer to do. If you moved your music, deleted it from your computer, or renamed a folder or song, fixing the match won’t work because it’s associating to the original name, folder, and information.

I have done some experimentation to find a solution to the problem, mainly to correctly tag music prior to letting Google recognize it, in order to eliminate the need to “fix incorrect match.” It appears that iTunes’ advisory tags work. Unfortunately, I don’t prefer using iTunes and have limited knowledge of this software. Instead, I will provide the steps using a free, third-party Windows application called Mp3tag.  The ideas in these steps should apply to other tag editors for music, but the specific steps will vary.

I adapted the following steps from here: Please note that this link provides steps to adding explicit/clean tags to iTunes music. The steps I am providing use many of the same ideas, some identical steps, but skipping over steps that aren’t necessary and focusing on the needs for Google Music.

With Mp3Tag open, follow the steps below (they are slightly different from the wikihow link):



  1. Click on Tools on the top navigation bar
  2. Click Options
  3. Click Tag Panel on the left navigation
  4. Click the icon in the top right with a star symbol (holding the mouse over the icon should display the text “add field”)
  5. Enter ITUNESADVISORY in “Field” and in “Name” (Name can be different, it refers to how this will be displayed in the application
  6. You should now be able to edit the advisory in the left-hand editor – change the advisory to 1 for explicit and 2 for radio editsteps7-11
  7. Right click on the column headers (filename, path, tag, etc.) and click Customize Columns
  8. Click New
  9. Enter ITUNESADVISORY in name
  10. Enter %itunesadvisory% in value
  11. Click OK
  • Use 1 for EXPLICIT
  • Use 2 for Clean/Radio Edit
  • Use 0 for neither (neutral setting)

Google Play Music will not label each track as explicit like it does with their own music, but the music will not be censored. You can prove this work by tagging some tracks with explicit lyrics with 2 under advisory and others with 1 and listen for the differences. If anyone has questions or something to add or correct, I would welcome your comments. I am not very familiar with other tagging applications, so I may have limited help if you’re looking for support. I will do my best.

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