“President Trump played Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ tonight at a campaign event in Minneapolis despite confirming a year ago that the campaign would not use Prince’s music,” the tweet said. “The Prince Estate will never give permission to President Trump to use Prince’s songs.”
Newton, a Washington-based attorney who has represented a GOP super PAC in the past, wrote in the 2018 letter, “Without admitting liability, and to avoid any future dispute, we write to confirm that the Campaign will not use Prince’s music in connection with its activities going forward.”
Politicians generally have the right to use songs at rallies if they have a “blanket license” for the artist’s catalog from one of the four U.S. performing rights organizations that licenses songs. However, artists can opt out of these licenses, and others have sued under the belief it’s false advertising to suggest they endorse a candidate who plays their music.
“As a general rule, a campaign should be aware that, in most cases, the more closely a song is tied to the ‘image’ or message of the campaign, the more likely it is that the recording artist or songwriter of the song could object to the song’s usage in the campaign,” according to American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.
Politicians often comply with these requests because negative publicity from a popular artist outweighs the benefits of playing their music — but President Trump does not seem concerned. Despite The Rolling Stones repeatedly asking Trump to stop playing their music, he ends almost every campaign rally with the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”