Without Their Permission: A History Of Musicians Being Pissed At Donald Trump For Using Their Music

07.22.16 3 years ago 6 Comments

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Throughout the course of his presidential campaign, the Republican nominee Donald Trump has managed to piss off more than just your liberal friends on Facebook, various minorities and Ted Cruz. A growing list of music legends have at one time or another expressed their anger at the Trump campaign using their songs at his rallies and campaign events. The list has actually reached a point where we felt it might be helpful to lay out the list, the song(s) involved and when the dust-up happened.

First, though, it should be noted that the Trump campaign doesn’t necessarily have to ask these bands for their permission. In an interview with The Frame, Alex Pappademas, the executive editor at MTV News, cleared the air on the matter.

“Any venue large enough to have a major party’s political convention in it, such as the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, they all have ASCAP and BMI licenses, which entitle you to use anything in the ASCAP and BMI catalogs. (Venues pay) a blanket fee. You have to pay ASCAP, but it’s never a transaction with the band. It’s always with those two publishing companies.”

As for any legal recourse any of these bands might have, Pappademas addressed that as well.

“They can sue for false endorsement and I imagine it’s a fairly complicated process, but you can’t just shut it down by saying, Stop using my song. Technically, Donald Trump doesn’t have to.”

So yeah, they can complain, but not much else. Man, Trump is so punk rock.

As of today, here are the bands and singers who have made this exclusive, amazing list, probably the greatest list in the world.

Who: Neil Young
When: June 2015
The Song: “Rockin’ in the Free World”


Trump used Young’s classic song when he announced his presidency and predictably, Young wasn’t thrilled. He issued a statement saying that and much more, most notably that he was Bernie Sanders’ fan. That too was not much of a surprise.

Who: REM
When: September 2015
The Song: “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine)”

REM didn’t hold back when they found out Trump was using their song. The band’s bassist Mike Mills took to Twitter to vent, while the band was slightly more diplomatic about the matter when addressing it via a Facebook post.

Who: Steven Tyler
When: October 2015
The Song: “Dream On”

In a twist, it wasn’t that Tyler was mad that Trump was using the Aerosmith classic, it was that he was pissed that the band wasn’t making any money from it. Tyler wrote a piece for The Huffington Post, citing Trump using “Dream On” as yet another example of people using a band’s music and the band not being compensated. It seems like Tyler felt that Pandora’s Box had really opened up and musicians were getting the shaft. That does not sound the least bit amazing to me.

Who: Twister Sister
When: December 2015
The Song: “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

In this case, Trump not only asked permission to use the song, but the band granted it, with the band’s frontman Dee Snider saying at the time:

“He asked me,” Snider tells Newsweek. “He’s a friend. He didn’t want a Neil Young situation. So he contacted me and said, ‘I’d like to use “We’re Not Gonna Take It.”‘ I said, ‘Look, we’re friends, and I really like you, but we don’t see eye-to-eye on everything.’ We do agree on a number of things, but not everything!”

It turns out one of the things that they didn’t agree on ended up proving to be too much. Following Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims, the band revoked the permission. They also cited Trump retweeting White Supremacists and aligning himself with them as reason for their change of heart.

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