Entertainment Music Ask before using our songs for politics, say musicians

Ask before using our songs for politics, say musicians

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Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Lionel Richie, Pearl Jam and Aerosmith are among musicians telling politicians to keep their grubby hands off their music, unless, perhaps, they ask nicely.

Dozens of musicians have signed an open letter from the Artist Rights Alliance, addressed to to the US Democratic and Republican national, congressional and senatorial committees, asking all parties to put an end to appropriating popular songs for political purposes without authorisation.

“No politician benefits from forcing a popular artist to publicly disown and reject them,” reads the letter.

“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.”

Others adding their signatures to the letter include Green Day, R.E.M., Linkin Park, Courtney Love, Sheryl Crow, T Bone Burnett, the Kurt Cobain estate, Blondie, Jason Isbell, the B52s, Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash, Cyndi Lauper, Alanis Morissette and Lykke Li.

Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed individually.

“It an issue that has come up in previous election cycles,” Ted Kalo, the executive director of the Artists Rights Alliance, told Variety, “but has happened with much greater frequency in this cycle, and that caught our attention.

“At a time when Americans are joining together to stand up for their rights and demand more of politicians and big institutions, the energy to just not take it anymore was overwhelming,” Kalo said.

Rather than only taking this on piecemeal, we felt it was time to confront this problem in numbers with a simple request: Ask and receive permission first.”

The issue has been a hot-button topic of late, with artists no longer thinking that throwing up their hands is the most they can do when it comes to stopping their music from being played at campaign rallies and in political videos.

The Rolling Stones have been working with both ASCAP and BMI to point out that political usages require a separate licence than normal venue permissions, and Neil Young just this week threatened to sue Donald Trump if he continues to use his songs at campaign events.