Lorde, R.E.M., Sia, and Jason Isbell Among Artists Uniting Against Politicians Hijacking Their Music

Neil Young is considering slapping Trump with a lawsuit over the practice.

Some of music’s biggest names are mad as hell, and simply not going to take it anymore. Sia, Blondie, Elvis Costello, Lorde, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, R.E.M., and Lionel Richie are among the artists who’ve signed an open letter demanding that politicians stop using their songs for campaigns and other political purposes.

RELATED: Neil Young Shares “Shut It Down 2020” for COVID-19 Era 

“As artists, activists and citizens, we ask you to pledge that all candidates you support will seek consent from featured recording artists and songwriters before using their music in campaign and political settings,” reads the letter, which arrives as a partnership with the Artist Rights Alliance. “This is the only way to effectively protect your candidates from legal risk, unnecessary public controversy and the moral quagmire that comes from falsely claiming or implying an artist’s support or distorting an artists’ expression in such a high stakes public way.”

“We’ve seen so many artists and estates dragged into politics against their will and forced to take aggressive action to prohibit the use of their music—usually songs that are broadcast during political rallies or used in campaign ads,” the ARA shared on its website. “It can confuse and disappoint fans and even undermine an artists’ long-term income—and mostly, it’s just not right. Politicians that want to represent the public trust must do better—by seeking consent before exploiting an artist’s or songwriter’s image and work.”

The message underscores the campaign’s tagline and hashtag, which is simply #AskFirst.

“Ask first. That’s all we’re asking,” Cyndi Lauper posted to social media. “Using music at political events can imply artist support and mislead voters. And that’s not OK.”

Rock legend Neil Young is considering taking things a step further by slapping Trump with a lawsuit. The American president has played Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World” at multiple campaign rallies, despite Young’s continued insistence that he stop.

“I am changing my mind about suing President Trump. Reconsidering. I’m looking at it again. There is a long history to consider and I originally considered it, deciding not to pursue,” Young posted on his website, linking to two separate occasions where he’s publicly asked the president to cease and desist. “But then President Trump ordered thugs in uniform onto our streets. His idea. He ordered this himself. This is all DJT.”

Young goes on to detail more of what he considers Trump’s transgressions, including federal troops attacking a U.S. Navy veteran in the streets.

“When the states asked for help with Covid 19, the president did not give it. He said he’s not responsible,” Young wrote. “When they said don’t bring military to our streets – we don’t need that, he did it anyway for his own political reasons- not for America. This rogue president is creating a much worse problem with his street thug army of uniformed hatred. So I am reconsidering. Imagine what it feels like to hear ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ after this President speaks, like it is his theme song. I did not write it for that.”


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