BMI tells Trump campaign not to use Rihanna songs
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.