EXCLUSIVE: President Donald Trump may be looking for a new walk-off song at his campaign rallies now that the Rolling Stones and BMI have put him on notice and threatened to sue if he ever again uses any of their songs licensed by the giant performing rights organization. And now fellow performing-rights group ASCAP says that Trump won’t be allowed to use any of the Stones’ songs in its repertory either – a playlist that includes “Start Me Up,” “Emotional Rescue,” “Waiting on a Friend” and “Angie.”
“At this time, the 2020 Trump campaign has not applied for an ASCAP license and therefore currently is not authorized by ASCAP to perform any songs in the ASCAP repertory (unless they have licensed those works directly),” an ASCAP spokesperson told Deadline. “As is our practice with all campaigns, if the 2020 Trump campaign requests an ASCAP license, ASCAP will inform the campaign of music that is excluded from our license upon execution of the license agreement. At present, notable among the ASCAP members who have asked that their songs be excluded from the 2020 Trump campaign ASCAP license agreement are Neil Young, the estate of Tom Petty, and ASCAP-licensed works by The Rolling Stones.”
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Like BMI, ASCAP has a Political Campaign License agreement that provides “a blanket license to perform any or all of the millions of compositions in the ASCAP repertory. However, ASCAP members may ask ASCAP to exclude specific songs from a particular political campaign’s license. In that event, ASCAP will notify the campaign of the excluded works.”
ASCAP has more than 11.5 million licensed songs, and BMI has some 15 million.
Numerous other acts have publicly objected to the use of their songs at Trump’s campaign rallies over the last four years, including Neil Young, whose “Rockin’ in the Free World” was played when Trump announced his candidacy after descending an escalator at the Trump Tower in New York in June 2015; Queen for his use of “We Are the Champions” at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland; Rihanna, for the use of her hit song “Don’t Stop the Music” at a 2018 Trump rally in Tallahassee, FL; Pharrell Williams, whose Oscar-nominated “Happy” was played at a Trump rally hours after 11 people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018; Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie, whose “High Hopes” played at Trump’s Phoenix event this week; and the estate of the Tom Petty, whose “I Won’t Back Down” also was played at Trump’s rally last week in Tulsa.