Many artists and their teams have even sent cease-and-desist notices, which are essentially warnings that demand a specific action be stopped or else legal action will be pursued.
From Neil Young to Rihanna, here are the artists — or their representatives — who have spoken out against President Trump using their music at his events and rallies.
Tom Petty’s family issued a complaint to the Trump campaign after one of the musician’s songs was played at a 2020 rally.
In a statement released on Twitter, Tom Petty’s daughters Adria and Annakim, widow Dana, and ex-wife Jane Petty wrote that they’d “issued an official cease and desist notice to the Trump campaign.”
“Trump was in no way authorized to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense behind,” the family wrote in their statement.
This isn’t the first time Tom Petty’s music has been used in political campaigns without permission — in 2000, George W. Bush used one of the musician’s songs on his campaign trail, according to Time.
Tom Petty threatened legal action against Bush, saying the use of his song falsely implied that he was endorsing Bush.
Brendon Urie of Panic! At The Disco told Trump to stop playing one of his songs.
On Twitter, the Panic! At The Disco frontman told Trump’s campaign to stop playing his song “High Hopes,” which played as the president walked on stage at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, per USA Today.
“Dear Trump Campaign, F— you. You’re not invited. Stop playing my song. No thanks, Brendon Urie, Panic! At The Disco & company,” the musician wrote in a tweet.
Neil Young was one of the first musicians to tell Trump to stop playing his music.
In 2015, Neil Young began his battle with Trump over the usage of his hit song, “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
Trump was using his song during his official presidential campaign announcement. Rolling Stone obtained the statement from Young’s representatives, which stated:
“Donald Trump was not authorized to use ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’ in his presidential candidacy announcement. Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America.”
But despite disapproval from the artist, a representative for Trump’s campaign told Rolling Stone that the song was being used legally.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, in August, Young filed a copyright-infringement lawsuit against the Trump campaign for playing his songs, including “Rockin’ in the Free World” and “Devil’s Sidewalk,” at campaign rallies.
Rihanna’s team sent a cease-and-desist notice to the White House.
In 2018, Rhianna discovered her music was being played during one of his rallies via Twitter.
In response to a tweet from The Washington Post reporter Philip Rucker about her music being used, she tweeted, “Not for much longer…me nor my people would ever be at or around one of those tragic rallies, so thanks for the heads up philip!”
Shortly after Rihanna sent out a tweet in regards to her disapproval, her team sent out a cease-and-desist notice, Rolling Stone reported.
Elton John said he doesn’t want his music used in American election campaigns.
While running for president, Trump used Elton John’s songs “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer” as warm-up music to his campaign rallies.
But the iconic singer has made it clear his views are different from Trump’s and he doesn’t want his music involved in American politics.
“I don’t really want my music to be involved in anything to do with an American election campaign. I’m British. I’ve met Donald Trump, he was very nice to me, it’s nothing personal, his political views are his own, mine are very different, I’m not a Republican in a million years,” John told The Guardian. “Why not ask Ted Nugent? Or one of those f—— country stars? They’ll do it for you.”
R.E.M. said they sent a cease-and-desist notice to Donald Trump.
In 2016, when the band’s frontrunner Michael Stipe found out that Trump was frequently using R.E.M.’s hit song, “It’s the End of the World,” at his campaign rallies, the entire band sent him a cease-and-desist notice.
According to Vulture, they later confirmed the legal matter in a Facebook statement and also told the media and American voters to focus on the “bigger picture.”
Adele spoke out against Trump once he started using her music at rallies.
In 2016, upon finding out that Trump was playing her music at his events, Adele’s spokesperson announced that Adele never gave then-candidate Trump permission to use her music.
According to Vulture, the singer went on to endorse Hillary Clinton during a concert on the US leg of her tour.
“Don’t vote for him,” she said of Trump, per Vulture. “I am English, but what happens in America affects me, too. I am 100% for Hillary Clinton. I love her, she’s amazing.”
The Rolling Stones have sent out multiple statements against Trump’s use of their music.
Since 2016, the band has sent out multiple statements calling for Trump to “cease all use” of their music, Vulture reported.
But Trump has continued to use the band’s hit song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” anyway, according to The Guardian.
In June 2020, representatives for the group — working with BMI, a performing-rights organization — released a statement saying that if Trump continued to use the band’s music in his campaigning efforts, he may be sued.
“The BMI have notified the Trump campaign on behalf of the Stones that the unauthorized use of their songs will constitute a breach of its licensing agreement,” the statement read, per Rolling Stone. “If Donald Trump disregards the exclusion and persists then he would face a lawsuit for breaking the embargo and playing music that has not been licensed.”
Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses expressed he didn’t want Trump playing the band’s music at rallies.
In 2018, the Guns N’ Roses singer found out that President Trump was playing the band’s hit song “Sweet Child O’ Mine” during an event.
He said his band has formally requested that Trump not use their music at his events, and tweeted that “… the Trump campaign is using loopholes in the various venues’ blanket performance licenses which were not intended for such craven political purposes, without the songwriters’ consent.”
Pharrell Williams had his lawyer send Trump a cease-and-desist notice.
After finding out that Trump played his song “Happy” at a rally just a few hours after the October 2018 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, Williams had his lawyer send the White House a cease-and-desist notice pertaining to the hit song and any of his other tunes, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“There was nothing ‘happy’ about the tragedy inflicted upon our country on Saturday and no permission was granted for your use of this song for this purpose,” the letter stated.
It also said Williams “has not and will not” give Trump permission to use his music.