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Amongst all the other items that transpired at and about President Trump’s reelection campaign in Minneapolis Thursday evening, his group played the music of a hometown hero: Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Quickly just after, the estate of Minnesota’s late musical hero produced it clear just how unhappy it was — and shared a letter from Trump’s legal group from a year ago, in which the campaign explicitly promised not to use Prince’s music.
Politicians soundtracking – or co-opting, based on your point of view — well-known songs is a familiar conundrum for artists. Candidates want nicely-recognized, typically mood-boosting hits to get the crowd going. (A single notable exception: the rather doleful “You Can not Often Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones, which was a favored for then-candidate Donald Trump in 2016.)
President Trump played Prince’s “Purple Rain” tonight at a campaign occasion in Minneapolis in spite of confirming a year ago that the campaign would not use Prince’s music. The Prince Estate will by no means give permission to President Trump to use Prince’s songs. pic.twitter.com/FuMUPzSWOe
— Prince (@prince) October 11, 2019
As lengthy as they spend for the rights to the songs, candidates in the U.S. are usually legally free of charge to use any music they like, no matter how at odds the artists’ personal politics could be from these on the campaign trail. (Throughout his remarks at Minneapolis’ Target Center Thursday evening, Trump mentioned: “I did not require Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and I did not require tiny Bruce Springsteen” to safe his 2016 electoral victory.)
As Melinda Newman observed in Forbes in July 2016, “The sad truth is for several artists, they can not maintain their songs from getting employed in this context even if they vehemently disagree with the politician who is applying the song.” The only restrictions relate to political commercials.
But the Prince estate could stand in a diverse position, simply because of a letter from the Trump campaign it posted to Twitter on Thursday evening and as of publication has been retweeted 28,000 occasions. Dated Oct. 15, 2018, and written by the law firm Jones Day on behalf of the president’s reelection campaign, the Trump group particularly says that “going forward,” the campaign will not use any of Prince’s music at Trump rallies and other campaign events, just after the estate requested it. (Nevertheless, it does not stipulate how lengthy such an agreement could final.) Offered that, it appears like this scenario will be a single for the lawyers.