Rolling Stones Ask Donald Trump to Stop Using Their Songs

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Rolling Stones South America 2-1-16 via FBThe Rolling Stones have asked presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to cease playing their songs at his campaign rallies. Trump responded yesterday (5/5) by telling CNN, “Certainly I have no problem. I like Mick Jagger. I like their songs.” But he also pointed out, “We have the rights to use them. I always buy the rights.”

Trump’s campaign has used the songs “Start Me Up” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” at events. On Thursday (5/4), the band’s publicist, Fran Curtis, released a statement that said the Stones had sent a letter to Trump’s campaign asking that they stop. “The Rolling Stones have never given permission to the Trump campaign to use their songs and have requested that they cease all use immediately.” But both songs were still played at a Trump rally in West Virginia that night as well as the late John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which namechecks the state.

Trump is correct when he states that he has the rights by buying them. As long as a campaign purchases a “blanket license” from the performing rights organizations (PROs) ASCAP and BMI, they are legally allowed to play an act’s songs. Songwriters can restrict the usage rights of their compositions as part of their agreements with the PROs.

However, it has been an accepted courtesy in the past that political campaigns stop using songs when asked to do so. Artists generally wish to avoid the impression that the use of their songs implies support or endorsement of a politician unless they have taken such a position.

The Rolling Stones are hardly the first musical act to ask Trump not to use their songs. Neil Young, Adele, Twisted Sister and R.E.M. have all previously requested that the campaign cease playing their recordings. It did continue to use Aerosmith’s “Dream On” for a while after Steven Tyler publicly asked the Trump campaign not to do so. This is an issue that could likely arise again as the 2016 presidential contest heats up.

Best Classic Bands Staff
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