The Rolling Stones have been trying to get President Donald Trump to stop using "You Can't Always Get What You Want" at his campaign rallies and events for years, and now they are stepping up their efforts. The legendary rock group is joining forces with publishing rights organization BMI to get the 1969 classic out of the Trump campaign's hands. Trump used the song throughout the 2016 campaign and most recently at the Tulsa, Oklahoma rally on June 20.
The Stones' team sent out a new statement declaring the Tulsa rally could be the "last time" Trump uses the song. "Despite cease & desist directives to Donald Trump in the past, the Rolling Stones are taking further steps to exclude him using their songs at any of his future political campaigning," the statement to Variety notes. According to the Stones' representatives, BMI told the Trump campaign that "unauthorized use of their songs will constitute a breach of its licensing agreement." If the campaign ignores the request to stop, there could be a lawsuit "for breaking the embargo and playing music that has not been licensed."
The issue at the center of the debate is if a song's use during a campaign rally counts towards a blanket license held by a venue to play the song at any event there. However, the Stones and BMI both agree that the Trump campaign should be held under BMI's "Political Entities License," which was first put in place about ten years ago for campaigns, BMI executive director Jodie Thomas explained to Variety.
"A venue license was never intended to cover political campaigns," Thomas explained. "So if a campaign attempts to rely on a venue license to cover its music use, there’s risk involved." In another statement to Variety and Deadline, BMI explained that the Trump campaign was told the Stones' songs were "removed from the campaign license, and advising the campaign that any future use of these musical compositions will be in breach of its license agreement with BMI."
Artists have been speaking out against the Trump campaign's use of their music for years. During the Tulsa rally, Trump's campaign used Panic! At The Disco's "High Hopes" and Tom Petty's "Won't Back Down," inspiring Panic! frontman Brendon Urie and Petty's family to publicly object. The Stones have repeatedly complained about the campaign's use of "You Can't Always Get What You Want," especially due to the song's content.
"He used it on everything. He used it on every rally through the election campaign," Mick Jagger told the BBC in 2018. "I wasn’t the DJ obviously, but if I was Donald’s DJ… it’s a funny song for your play-out song. When he finished the speech, he played this out, this sort of doomy ballad about drugs in Chelsea. It’s kind of weird if you think about it, but he couldn’t be persuaded to use something else, it was an odd thing, very odd."