Most of you must have probably heard about Adele. She provided vocals for the song ‘Skyfall’ which was the theme song for the James Bond movie by the same name. She is very well known and is considered by many to be one of the best singers of the world. What most of you do not know is that her music was used by Donald Trump in one of his rallies.
Donald Trump recently held a campaign rally at Exeter, New Hampshire. Some of Adele’s most popular songs were played while people waited for him. The songs included ‘Skyfall’ and ‘Rolling in the Deep’. This apparently wasn’t acceptable for Adele. The British superstar clearly stated that she doesn’t want Trump to use her songs ever again.
A spokesman for Adele, Benny Tarantini, stated that Adele never gave permission for her songs to be used in any political campaign. Unfortunately due to certain reasons, Trump didn’t require written permission from her to play her songs at his rallies.
Adele reminds us of August Landmesser, who refused to go along with the crowd.
According to various copyright experts, campaigns can play an artist’s songs, regardless of whether the artist permits them or not. Of course, this can only happen if the political organization or the venue owns what is called a blanket license. This blanket license allows them to play songs that are owned by BMI and ASCAP.
So, what does this license allow? It may come as a surprise, but whoever has this license can play any song from any artist, as long as it is owned by either BMI or ASCAP. ASCAP gives away over 10 million musical works, coming from more than 520,000 composers and songwriters. BMI gives away the work of 700,000 songwriters and over 10.5 million works. Of course, Trump’s people are not foolish enough to play a song without a license. We have seen many such cases where public figures have made the mistake of playing music without owning the rights to it.
Just having a license however, does not mean Trump is playing Adele’s music for free. Trump needs to pay 6 cents for every person that attends the rally. A portion of this money goes to the artist. Trump, even with his blanket license, cannot use Adele’s music beyond playing it at his rallies. The music cannot be used in TV commercials or on YouTube. Separate permissions are required for the use of music in these cases.
Because Trump has not used Adele’s music in anything other than playing it at his rallies, Adele cannot take any legal action against him. In the past, many artists have sued public figures, who used their music beyond their rallies. Most of the public figures did own blanket licenses.
The good news for Adele is that she can completely stop Trump from ever using her songs again. It is part of the license’s agreement. Any artist can request that his/her song should not be played at political campaign rallies. For the most part, artists do not want their music to be used as it provides a sort of endorsement.
Whatever is the case, Trump will have to use music from another artist at his campaign if Adele’s request actually gets through.