Calvin Harris and Florence Welch of Florence and The Machine have both expressed their anger regarding their music being played at this year’s Conservative Party Conference, earlier in the month.
As the Prime Minister took the stage, Rhianna’s and Calvin Harris’ collaboration ‘This is What You Came For’, played upon her entrance, to what resulted in an abysmal speech, plagued by bad luck.
In a now-deleted tweet, Calvin Harris said: ‘Conservative Party conference playing my song was not approved – I do not support nor condone happy songs being played at such a sad event.’
While Florence Welch tweeted: ‘Today’s use of ‘You’ve Got The Love’ at the Conservative party conference was not approved by us nor would it have been had they asked. If the Conservative party could refrain from using our music in future. x’
The Conservative Party have yet to respond to these complaints, in what can only be seen as another weak attempt to grab the youth vote. However, this is far from the first time that politicians have used artists music without their permission.
Last year, the-then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump used Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ as his warm-up music at rallies. A spokesman on behalf of the pop star confirmed that: ‘Adele has not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning.’
Trump has also had musical feuds for appropriating songs with Steven Tyler from Aerosmith, for using the bands hit single ‘Dream On’ at rallies, and Neil Young’s: ‘Rockin’ in the Free World’.
The Tory party had previously used ‘Everybody’s Changing’ by Keane at an election manifesto launch in 2010. Drummer Richard Huges tweeted furiously: ‘Told the Tories played Keane at their manifesto launch. Am horrified. To be clear – we were not asked. I will not vote for them.’
When Mrs May was Home Secretary, she had supposedly walked on stage to Primal Scream’s ‘Rocks’ at the 2011 conference. The band reacted in an angry statement saying: ‘We would like to distance ourselves from this sick association.’ Tories later replied, denying use of their track, claiming it was ‘Bohemian Like You’ by the Dandy Warhols, which was played.
But what is the legality? US copyright gives politicians freedom to use recorded music – as long as the venue has a public performance licence issued through a songwriters’ association such as ASCAP or BMI (in the US) or PRS (in the UK). Similarly, UK copyright law gives politicians the same freedom. However, artists can fight back by arguing that their image and reputation is being damaged by such use of their music – if express permission hasn’t been given.