The Prince Estate strongly criticized the Trump campaign for playing “Purple Rain” at a Minneapolis rally in which the president made multiple aggressive and juvenile comments about Democratic leaders, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce and Jay-Z.
In a statement posted on social media, the Estate wrote, “President Trump played Prince’s ‘Purple Rain’ tonight at a campaign event in Minneapolis despite confirming a year ago that the campaign would not use Prince’s music. The Prince Estate will never give permission to President Trump to use Prince’s songs.”
The use of the song was doubly loaded because Minneapolis was Prince’s residence and home base for his entire life.
Alongside the comment, the Estate posted shared a letter from a campaign attorney, dated almost exactly a year ago, in response to a previous request for it to “refrain from using Prince’s ‘Purple Rain,’ or any other Prince music, in connection with Campaign rallies or other Campaign events.” The letter concludes, “Without admitting liability, and to avoid and future dispute, we write to confirm that the Campaign will not use Prince’s music in connection with its activities going forward.”
The Trump campaign has continued to play music by the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and several other artists since the president began running for office in 2015, despite multiple requests not to do so.
After the campaign played Aerosmith’s “Livin’ on the Edge” at a rally in August of last year, the group’s singer, Steven Tyler, sent a “cease and desist” letter through his attorney Dina LaPolt to the White House accusing the president of willful infringement in broadcasting the song, which was written by Tyler, Joe Perry and Mark Hudson.
Citing the Lanham Act, which prohibits “any false designation or misleading description or representation of fact … likely to cause confusion … as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person,” Tyler’s attorney contended that playing an Aerosmith song in a public arena gives the false impression that Tyler is endorsing Trump’s presidency.
However, such cases are difficult to prosecute — a campaign can argue for fair use under a blanket license from a performing rights organization — and, clearly, the Trump campaign is not overly concerned about respecting the artists’ wishes.