You’ve probably heard that a number of artists ranging from Neil Young to Tom Petty to Guns N’ Roses are extremely pissed that Donald Trump uses their music during their campaign rallies. They’re concerned that by playing their music, it appears that they are given approval to Trump’s policies–or if not Trump, some other politician whose views they find repugnant.
Truth is, politicians can use whatever music they like during their rallies, events which are held in public venues. Without going too deep into the weeds, those venues have performing rights licenses, meaning that they’re covered for royalties for music played by any client in that venue. This blanket licensing has been in effect since at least the 1940s.
But now an open letter has been published by a long list of artists (Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, REM, Blondie, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Pearl Jam, Green Day, and many others) demanding the following:
“[E]stablish clear policies requiring campaigns to seek the consent of featured recording artists, songwriters and copyright owners before publicly using their music in a political or campaign setting.
“As artists, activists and citizens, we ask you to pledge that all candidates you support will seek consent from featured recording artists and songwriters before using their music in campaign and political settings.
“This is the only way to effectively protect your candidates from legal risk, unnecessary public controversy and the moral quagmire that comes from falsely claiming or implying an artist’s support or distorting an artists expression in such a high stakes public way.”
We’ll see where this goes.