Artists Aerosmith, Mick Jagger, Lionel Richie, Elton John, Sia, and more than 50 other singers signed an open letter demanding politicians and campaigns stop playing their music at rallies and events without their consent.
“Being dragged unwillingly into politics in this way can compromise an artist’s personal values while disappointing and alienating fans,” reads the letter from the Artist Rights Alliance. “For artists that do choose to engage politically in campaigns or other contexts, this kind of unauthorized public use confuses their message and undermines their effectiveness.”
“This is not a new problem. Or a partisan one,” the letter continued. “Every election cycle brings stories of artists and songwriters frustrated to find their work being used in settings that suggest endorsement or support of political candidates without their permission or consent.”
The letter was addressed to campaign committees on both sides of the political aisle, and implored the political organizations 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,” the letter added.
The letter went on to affirm that “the legal risks are clear” in its attempt to get the campaign committees to cease usage of their music.
“More importantly,” the letter adds, “falsely implying support or endorsement from an artist or songwriter is dishonest and immoral. It undermines the campaign process, confuses the voting public, and ultimately distorts elections.”
The letter continued:
Like all other citizens, artists have the fundamental right to control their work and make free choices regarding their political expression and participation. Using their work for political purposes without their consent fundamentally breaches those rights – an invasion of the most hallowed, even sacred personal interests.
No politician benefits from forcing a popular artist to publicly disown and reject them. Yet these unnecessary controversies inevitably draw even the most reluctant or apolitical artists off the sidelines, compelling them to explain the ways they disagree with candidates wrongfully using their music. And on social media and in the culture at large, it’s the politicians that typically end up on the wrong side of those stories.
“We urge you to establish clear policies requiring campaigns supported by your committees to seek the consent of featured recording artists, songwriters, and copyright owners before publicly using their music in a political or campaign setting,” declared the artists in their letter.
The letter concluded by informing the political organizations that they had until August 10 to respond with how they plan “to accomplish these changes.”
Signees to the letter included Aerosmith, Alanis Morissette, B-52s, Cyndi Lauper, Elton John, Elvis Costello, Green Day, Jewel, Keith Richards, Lionel Richie, Linkin Park, Lorde, Mick Jagger, Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Sheryl Crow, Sia, Train, and more.
Last week, rock group Linkin Park forced the removal of a pro-Trump Internet meme featuring their 2000 song “In the End” by citing a copyright claim after it was retweeted by President Donald Trump.
Similarly, left-wing rocker Neil Young complained that President Trump had played his music at his event at Mount Rushmore earlier this month.
“I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux & this is NOT ok with me,” Young proclaimed.