Songwriter's Corner|

Vocalist Steven Tyler (L) and guitarist Joe Perry (R) of Aerosmith perform during their “Aerosmith: Let Rock Rule” tour at The Forum in Inglewood, California July 30, 2014. Reuters/ Mario Anzuoni

By Chris Willman, Variety | What do Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Lionel Richie, Courtney Love, Panic! at the Disco, Pearl Jam, Sia, Aerosmith, Lorde and Linkin Park have in common? Among probably many other things, one definite is a desire for politicians to keep their grubby hands off their music. (Unless, perhaps, they ask nicely.)

Those and dozens of other artists have put their signatures to an open letter from the Artist Rights Alliance, addressed to to the Democratic and Republican national, congressional and senatorial committees, asking all parties to put an end to appropriating popular songs for political purposes without authorization.

“No politician benefits from forcing a popular artist to publicly disown and reject them,” reads the letter. “Yet these unnecessary controversies inevitably draw even the most reluctant or apolitical artists off the sidelines, compelling them to explain the ways they disagree with candidates wrongfully using their music. And on social media and in the culture at large, it’s the politicians that typically end up on the wrong side of those stories.”

Others adding their signatures to the letter include Green Day, R.E.M., Sheryl Crow, T Bone Burnett, the Kurt Cobain estate, Blondie, Jason Isbell, Elvis Costello, Rosanne Cash and Lykke Li. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards signed individually. Steven Tyler is on board as a signatory both under his own name and Aerosmith’s.

“It an issue that has come up in previous election cycles,” Ted Kalo, the executive director of the Artists Rights Alliance, tells Variety, “but has happened with much greater frequency in this cycle, and that caught our attention. At a time when Americans are joining together to stand up for their rights and demand more of politicians and big institutions, the energy to just not take it anymore was overwhelming. Rather than only taking this on piecemeal, we felt it was time to confront this problem in numbers with a simple request: Ask and receive permission first.”

The issue has been a hot-button topic of late, with artists no longer thinking that throwing up their hands is the most they can do when it comes to stopping their music from being played at campaign rallies and in political videos. The Rolling Stones have been working with both ASCAP and BMI to point out that political usages require a separate license than normal venue permissions, and Neil Young just this week threatened to sue the president if he continues to use his songs at campaign events.
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Please let us know by August 10th how you plan to accomplish these changes.

Sincerely, Aerosmith, Alanis Morissette … Artist Rights Alliance, B-52s, … Blondie … CAKE … Courtney Love, Cyndi Lauper … Elton John …Elvis Costello… Fall Out Boy … Green Day … Jewel… Joe Perry … John Mellencamp… Keith Richards … Kurt Cobain estate … Lionel Richie… Linkin Park… Lorde… Michelle Branch… Mick Jagger… Pearl Jam… and many, many more…

Read the whole story here:
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