In this month’s edition of “Stop Playing My Music at Your Rallies, Mr. President,” there’s a surprise special guest star — Prince! Actually, it was the late superstar’s estate that requested Donald Trump no longer playlist “Purple Rain” to get his supporters hyped before campaign appearances. The Trump team started using the ballad at rallies fairly recently, but the estate’s request seems to have been prompted by an Oct. 9 event in Iowa, when the song could be heard during pre-speech live reports on cable news. Trump has previously been asked to stop using the songs of Queen, Luciano Pavarotti, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Adele, R.E.M., Elton John, Twisted Sister, Aerosmith and The Rolling Stones. Some observers believe Trump can legally still play the songs due to blanket music licensing agreements purchased for such events, but his music supervisors usually (he still whips out the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”) pull the music after complaints and the issue has yet to go to court. If it ever did, the artists would argue that their music’s use falsely implies an endorsement, which would appear to violate federal trademark law.
WARM: MMA is Law
On Oct. 11, as expected, President Trump signed into law the Music Modernization Act, which, by the time it reached his desk, had become the Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act. The OGHBGMMA (see guys, this is why you keep it simple) has many components, but essentially it updates copyright law for the digital music era, putting in place a more fair and efficient royalty payment system for artists, writers and producers. The signing ceremony guest list didn’t exactly reflect the nearly unanimous bipartisan support the Act received from lawmakers, though the musical representatives in attendance definitely passed Trump’s “Do you like me? Then I like you” loyalty test. Vocal Trump supporters Mike Love (Beach Boys) and Kid Rock were joined at the signing by Trump inauguration performers Sam Moore (Sam & Dave) and Big and Rich’s John Rich, plus staunchly conservative Country singer Craig Morgan and Christian music stars MercyMe, who performed for Trump at the 2107 National Prayer Breakfast. The only apolitical, non-payback invitees to the ceremony appeared to be Recording Academy president Neil Portnoy and Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, who (no lie) has worked as a U.S. missile-defense adviser/consultant to the Pentagon for more than a decade.
COLD: Ye at the White House
Kanye West was also initially touted as being a guest at the MMA signing but didn’t make it. But he was at the White House later that day for a planned “lunch meeting” with Trump. As you likely saw or read, the press was invited into the Oval Office for part of the meeting, which West dominated with a barrage of impassioned (if unfocused) statements about technology, politics and social justice. The meeting was allegedly to discuss prison reform, but it seems unlikely any policy changes will come as a result. Instead, much like the signing ceremony, the invite appeared to be more payback for someone famous saying nice things about the president, as West (whose erratic Oval Office commentary indicated mental health issues) bolstered his role as a Trump campaign talking point.