Queen and the Prince Estate have responded to Trump’s use of their music at a recent rally, and his latest presidential campaign video.
Music is a powerful tool when it comes to setting a certain tone, or mood; we find ourselves associating some of the most powerful experiences in our lives with even a simple song, which, when it plays, transports us to another world.
This is especially true in situations that are specifically designed to create an environment in which people will subconsciously associate the music with an ideology; whether it’s national anthems, songs of protests or upbeat tracks in celebration – music can be used for more than just entertainment, and have an incredible impact.
This can be both positive and negative, depending on the situation. One of the most nuanced issues comes when politicians take hold of the power of commercial music – and often without permission – in order to create a certain atmosphere as they rally for support amongst the population during provincial and national elections. In this sense, they are able to associate the music with their specific ideologies, and the power of this tool can affect their audience in many ways, whether consciously or unconsciously.
One of the most controversial demonstrations of this has been present in American politics, with a specific focus during the elections as Donald Trump has been attending rallies around the country in order to speak to his supporters. As expected, he has received a significant amount of backlash as he uses music without permission; often by artists who do not align with his ideologies and the messages he is pushing across – including his presidency in general. In the past, Trump has been ordered to no longer use specific music at his rallies and in his campaigns as the musicians involved find it offensive. Despite being told that he is not authorised to use this music, Trump continues to implement these commercial tracks without permission – and in spite of the musicians personal ideologies.
In his previous campaigns multiple musicians hit back, yet they once again find themselves in a difficult situation as the American president takes advantage of their music for personal and political gain. In a recent development, Queen are responding to Trump using their music – although they have hit back at Trump for using their music during rallies, ’We Will Rock You’ has now been used in one of Trump’s campaign videos, and the band are seeking to have their song, which has been used in its entirety, removed from the video.
At the same time, the Prince Estate has responded to Trump’s recent use of the late artist’s iconic tracks ‘Purple Rain’ at one of his rallies, specifically stating (and releasing a part of the legal document) in which Trump’s lawyer stated, one year ago, that they will no longer use Prince’s music as a part of his campaign.
The use of commercial music, specifically without permission, is definitely an unlawful act in the face of associating said music with ideologies that are influential in politics. The difficulty these musicians are facing in response is another part of the problem, finding themselves in a tug of war between their art and political climate.