Music | July 29, 2020 9:32 am

Rolling Stones, Elton John and More Sign Letter Against Unauthorized Political Use of Music

Green Day, Aerosmith and R.E.M. also signed the open letter

The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones' quarrel with Donald Trump may have a new dimension.
Gorup de Besanez/Creative Commons

The Rolling Stones, Elton John, Lorde, R.E.M. and dozens more artists have joined forces to speak out against the unauthorized use of their music by politicians.

The musicians signed an open letter — along with Green Day, Courtney Love, Jason Isbell, Blondie, Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash, Aerosmith and more — from the Artist Rights Alliance to the Democratic and Republican national, congressional and senatorial committees asking that all politicians stop using artists’ music for political purposes without getting permission first.

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

The issue is nothing new, but it has gained attention recently with Neil Young threatening to sue Donald Trump over his use of “Rockin’ in the Free World.” “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. 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.”

You can read the complete letter here.

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