For competitive programs, figure skaters were once restricted to instrumental music, including vocal music if it contained no lyrics or words. Beginning in the 1997–98 season, the International Skating Union decided to allow lyrics or words in ice dancing. Although the rules were not relaxed for singles and pairs, judges did not always penalize violations. At the 2011 World Championships, Florent Amodio's long program music included words but an insufficient number of judges voted for a deduction. In June 2012, the International Skating Union voted to allow skaters from all disciplines to choose music with words in their competitive programs beginning in the 2014–15 season.
Skaters may use professional music editors so that their music meets requirements. Ice dancers are required to skate to music that has a definite beat or rhythm. Singles and pair skaters more often skate to the melody and phrasing of their music. For long programs, figure skaters generally search for music with different moods and tempos. Music selections for exhibitions are less constrained than for competitive programs.