What if you write a song and then find its being played at a political rally by someone you don’t like or agree with politically? Do you have any rights? Can you stop them playing your track? Do you feel your song and your art is being tarnished by association, maybe changing the meaning of the songs.
It’s been an issue for some time but has accelerated in recent times with Trump. The US present has been annoying many artists with his use of their songs at his rallies and now they are making a stand. Mick Jagger, Lorde, Sia and Blondie are among the artists demanding that US politicians seek permission before playing their songs at rallies. Signing an open letter from the American organisation ARA they are calling for new rules on how their music is used.
The letter calls on Democrats and Republicans to “establish clear policies requiring campaigns to seek consent” from songwriters and artists.
Campaign music has been a heated topic throughout the 2016 and 2020 elections.
Artists including Rihanna, Adele, The Rolling Stones, Panic! At The Disco and the estate of Prince have asked the President Trump to stop using their music at his rallies, with some threatening legal action.
Copyright laws give politicians carte blanche to use recorded music at their rallies – as long as the venue has a public performance licence issued through a songwriters’ It’s been an issue for some time association such as ASCAP or BMI.
However, there is some leeway for an artist to complain their image and reputation is being damaged by the repeated use of a song without their express permission.
The new letter, organised by the Artist Rights Coalition (ARA), addresses that point in its third paragraph.
“Being dragged unwillingly into politics in this way can compromise an artist’s personal values while disappointing and alienating fans – with great moral and economic cost,” it says.