The Rolling Stones Warn Donald Trump About Using Their Music Again

Published on June 29, 2020

No serious or talented musician wants their music played at President Donald Trump’s rallies, which recently in Tulsa, had a lot of empty seats. Rihanna, Tom Petty’s estate, and of all people, Trump’s favorite musician, Neil Young, requested their music not be played at a Trump rally. Now, the Rolling Stones are going a little further by threatening legal action. 

Cease and Desists Ignore

The Rolling Stones and their reps have previously sent cease and desist directives to Trump before. Recently in Tulsa, Trump played the band’s 1969 classic, “Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The president has been ignoring the Stones’ orders since 2017. Now, the band has turned to BMI (via Deadline), which is the performing rights organization, and warned Trump’s camp about using the Stones’ music again. They did not hear back. 

A Statement from BMI

“This could be the last time President Donald Trump uses Stones songs. Despite cease & desist directives to Donald Trump in the past, the Rolling Stones are taking further steps to exclude him using their songs at any of his future political campaigning. The Stones’ legal team is working with BMI. BMI has notified the Trump campaign on behalf of the Stones that the unauthorized use of their songs will constitute a breach of its licensing agreement. If Donald Trump disregards the exclusion and persists, then he would face a lawsuit for breaking the embargo and playing music that has not been licensed.

The Trump campaign has a Political Entities License which authorizes the public performance of more than 15 million musical works in BMI’s repertoire wherever campaign events occur. There is a provision, however, that allows BMI to exclude musical works from the license if a songwriter or publisher objects to its use by a campaign. BMI has received such an objection and sent a letter notifying the Trump campaign that the Rolling Stones’ works have been removed from the campaign license, and advising the campaign that any future use of these musical compositions will be in breach of its license agreement with BMI.”

The Stones Aren’t Having It

Stones’ frontman and guitarist, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, teamed up with BMI to put a stop to this. Politicians usually try to use a loophole, putting the blame on the venue and not themselves. They try to defend that it was the venue that has license to the song, not them. 

In the case of the Stones, their music railed against the man and people with money and power, which is usually who they now play to when they play live at their highly expensive concerts. Remember, they are the band that wrote and performed “Street Fighting Man.” Of course they don’t like Donald Trump.

Other Artists Against Trump

The funniest artist to ask Trump to stop using their music has to be Neil Young. The very progressive artist, for unexplainable reasons, is Trump’s favorite musician, even though their ideals couldn’t be more different. Ironically, Trump would play “Rockin’ in the Free World” at his rallies. After Young requested that the president stop using his song about freedom, Trump’s campaign manager said they’d respect Young’s wishes and stop playing the song. 

Major bands and artists are against Trump using their music to promote himself. Queen wasn’t happy about “We Are the Champions” at the 2016 Republican National Convention, neither was Rihanna about hearing “Don’t Stop the Music” at a rally in 2018. Grosset of all, the use of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” at a rally hours after a tragic shooting in America. 

On top of all those artists, Tom Petty’s estate recently told Trump to knock it off, as did Panic! At the Disco. Maybe the only musician who would welcome Trump playing his music? Ted Nugent, but nobody relevant or worthwhile wants their music played at a Trump rally. Now, the biggest and best rock band of all-time is taking serious steps to tell the president to quit it. It’s like your musical heroes telling you they don’t like you, over and over again.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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