BMI tells Trump cam­paign not to use Ri­hanna songs

Times Colonist - - Arts - NARDINE SAAD

Singer and ac­tor Ri­hanna is strength­en­ing her re­solve against U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and now has the back­ing of per­form­ing rights com­pany Broad­cast Mu­sic Inc., which has no­ti­fied the Trump cam­paign that it should dis­con­tinue use of her mu­sic at events.

BMI has re­moved the Bar­ba­dian singer’s work from a blan­ket li­cence agree­ment used for cam­paigns.

In this case, the so-called “po­lit­i­cal en­ti­ties li­cence” was an agree­ment with Don­ald J. Trump for Pres­i­dent Inc., giv­ing the cam­paign li­cence to play her work.

The move comes just af­ter Ri­hanna’s lawyer sent the White House a cease-and-de­sist let­ter this week upon learn­ing that Trump played her 2007 hit Don’t Stop the Mu­sic at a rally in Chat­tanooga, Ten­nessee, over the week­end.

“BMI has re­ceived a com­mu­ni­ca­tion from Robyn Fenty, pro­fes­sion­ally known as ‘Ri­hanna,’ ob­ject­ing to the Trump Cam­paign’s use of Ri­hanna’s mu­si­cal works,” said BMI’s Nov. 6 let­ter, ob­tained by The Times on Fri­day.

“As such … this let­ter serves as no­tice that Ri­hanna’s mu­si­cal works are ex­cluded from the ‘po­lit­i­cal en­ti­ties’ Agree­ment, and any per­for­mance of Ri­hanna’s mu­si­cal works by the Trump Cam­paign from this date for­ward is not au­tho­rized by BMI.”

The let­ter was ad­dressed to the Trump cam­paign’s as­so­ciate vice-pres­i­dent, Ja­son Young; di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions Sean Doll­man; and Bradley T. Crate of Red Curve So­lu­tions, a trea­surer for the cam­paign.

The BMI Mu­sic Li­cense for Po­lit­i­cal En­ti­ties or Or­ga­ni­za­tions has been around for about a decade and cov­ers mu­sic played at po­lit­i­cal cam­paign events wher­ever they oc­cur.

How­ever, it con­tains a pro­vi­sion that if a BMI song­writer or pub­lisher ob­jects to the use of her or his song, the pub­lisher may ex­clude that song from the li­cence.

And it isn’t the first time that an artist has been asked to be re­moved from the agree­ment, ei­ther. Aero­smith’s Steven Tyler pre­vi­ously re­quested that BMI pull Aero­smith’s Dream On from use by the Trump cam­paign.

Ri­hanna is among a num­ber of artists who have re­cently asked the pres­i­dent not to play their mu­sic at his cam­paign events and ral­lies. That list in­cludes Phar­rell Wil­liams, the Prince es­tate and, more re­cently, Axl Rose of Guns N Roses.

This week, Rose ac­cused the Trump cam­paign of “us­ing loop­holes in the var­i­ous venues’ blan­ket per­for­mance li­cences which were not in­tended for such craven po­lit­i­cal pur­poses, with­out the song­writ­ers’ con­sent.”

The bat­tles have raged on since be­fore Trump hit the cam­paign trail, and cam­paign of­fi­cials usu­ally ar­gue that by ac­quir­ing blan­ket li­cences through per­form­ing rights or­ga­ni­za­tions such as BMI or the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Com­posers, Au­thors and Pub­lish­ers, they have com­plied with re­quire­ments of con­sti­tu­tional pro­tec­tions for copy­righted works.

How­ever, as The Times has pre­vi­ously re­ported, the pres­ence of such li­cences at a con­ven­tion hall hasn’t mol­li­fied mu­si­cians, their pub­lish­ers or man­agers, even though they re­ceive roy­alty pay­ments for their mu­sic.

Mean­while, so­cial me­dia has al­lowed artists to go pub­lic with their griev­ances and promptly de­cry what they be­lieve is the unau­tho­rized use of their work, rather than or in ad­di­tion to seek­ing le­gal reme­dies. The Trump cam­paign and Red Curve So­lu­tions did not im­me­di­ately re­spond re­quests for com­ment.


Ri­hanna is among a num­ber of artists who have asked the U.S. pres­i­dent not to play their mu­sic at his cam­paign events and ral­lies, in­clud­ing Aero­smith’s Steven Tyler and Phar­rell Wil­liams.

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