It’s no secret that Donald Trump is a hot topic, and not in a good way. In fact, a poll taken by CNN indicates that 45 percent of Americans rate Trump’s job performance as poor, while 20 percent rate his performance as excellent, 20 percent as good, and 13 percent as fair.
There is also an extensive list of singer/songwriters who dislike Trump so much, they have gone as far as informing him that he is not allowed to use their music at his rallies, and publicly announcing their distaste for him.
Artists including Neil Young, Steven Tyler, Adele, Pharrell Williams, Rihanna, as well as the bands The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses and Twisted Sister, and even deceased artists including George Harrison, Luciano Pavarotti and Prince (whose family members and representatives have spoken for them), have said they want nothing to do with Trump or his rallies.
The artists have delivered the requests to Trump in various ways, ranging from polite requests to near threats. For example, the remaining members of Queen said, “Regardless of our views on Mr. Trump’s platform, it has always been against our policy to allow Queen music to be used as a political campaigning tool.” This was a respectful, decent way to deny Trump rights to their music.
However, other artists, like R.E.M., said, “Go fuck yourselves, the lot of you — you sad, attention grabbing, power-hungry little men. Do not use our music or my voice for your moronic charade of a campaign.” Rihanna also responded to a Twitter post about Trump after he used her song “Please Don’t Stop the Music” said, “Not for much longer … me nor my people would ever be at or around one of those tragic rallies, so thanks for the heads up philip!”
Now the question is, should these artists be allowed to prohibit politicians from using their music at their rallies. My answer definitely has to be yes.
If these artists write, or have someone write this song for them to sing, they should be allowed to control who uses the songs, especially when it comes to the question of endorsing a candidate that the artist does not support. If Trump, or any politician uses an Ariana Grande song, for example, it is reasonable to assume that she gave Trump the rights to the song and is allowing him to use it. Therefore, it is also reasonable to assume that Ariana Grande supports Trump and all that he stands for.
Continuing on the Ariana Grande example, Ariana has 135 million followers on Instagram, 59 million followers on Twitter, and 32 million likes on Facebook. It’s safe to say that she has an immense following. If her fans hear Trump playing one of her songs at his rally, they could assume that she allowed him to do this. This means Ariana Grande is risking losing followers, and she is risking her reputation because it will seem like she supports all of the atrocious acts and beliefs Trump stands for. This is exactly the reason why I feel artists should be allowed to pick and choose whether or not their song gets played at a politicians rally. At the very least, politicians should ask the artist if they will allow their song to be played. They are putting a lot at risk, and they should at least have a say in the matter.
On Oct. 27, a few hours after the Pittsburgh synagogue murders, Trump played Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy” at a Future Farmers for America rally, and Williams sent his lawyer to write a cease and desist letter to Trump.
“There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose,” his lawyer wrote. “Pharrell has not, and will not, grant you permission to publicly perform or otherwise broadcast or disseminate any of his music.”
In cases like Pharrell’s, I find it appalling that Trump would even have the nerve, the audacity to play such a ‘happy’ song right after 11 people were murdered. In this, and in any case, I find it very reasonable for artists to deny politicians rights to their music.
In all honesty, it surprises me that Trump hasn’t gotten sued by musicians on the grounds of the rights to their music. Trump should not have rights to any music unless the rights are granted from the person who wrote or sang the song.