This week the bands, Survivor and R.E.M., both have had songs of theirs played at political or social rallies, of a party and/or social cause they obviously do not personally agree with. Both have taken to social media to protest the use of their songs, according to their own statements, in an unlicensed fashion.
The Survivor song in question, “Eye of The Tiger.” According to recent reports the song was used at a rally in Grayson, Ky. where former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee had an event after Rowan County clerk, Kim Davis, was released from jail after being arrested for refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses because of her religious beliefs. Davis spent 5 days behind bars.
The R.E.M. song in question, “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine).” This song is even far more obscure than the Survivor song. Yet, both bands had taken to social media to voice their concerns. Why? To help promote their bands and their music. That has to be the reason, otherwise, I would hate to think that they have written and recorded songs exclusively for the people who align with their own ideologies.
“Eye of the Tiger” was released in 1982. That was 33 years ago. “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” was released in 1987, which is 28 years ago for me and the rest of my mathematically challenged readers.
I personally like both of these songs. Both appear on my playlist on my phone and iPad. However, I am at a point where I feel I might need to delete them, and all of their other songs both bands have recorded, because they release music that they want to share ONLY with people and events that align with the 100%. I am pretty sure, that is being an elitist. I have no tolerance for artists who create art, only that they want to be appreciated by a few people. Art is for everyone. God gave talent to a few, to be appreciated by many. Are they forgetting where their talent comes from?
So, I am back to my original thought, that neither band actually give a rats ass about who is using their song, but when they both know that there is a strong opposition to the events/cause at which their music was played, well then, they both decided to crank up their PR machines and voice our displeasure. It’ll help sell records (downloads, rights?) Other than a “where are they now”, an episode on MTV when was the last time you heard about either of these bands?
Part of getting a permit to hold public rallies pays for royalties to ASCAP and BMI, (musician unions, if you will), for the public performance of their songs. The writer gets a share as does the artist performing the song on the recording. Most public performance areas have a deal in place for either live music performed at their venue, or “piped-in” music they play so there is some background ambiance.
Only the owner of the song has the right to reproduce or make copies of his or her song. The owner also has the right to grant permission to others to reproduce or make copies of his or her song. So, before you can record and make copies of someone else’s song, you need to get permission from the owner. You get that permission by getting a license, just like you get permission to drive by obtaining a driver’s license.
This license is called a mechanical license. By getting this mechanical license from the songwriter or from a music publishing company acting on behalf of the songwriter, you will then have permission to record, reproduce or make copies of the song. I would be everything that there is a mechanical license in place fro the venues where these two events were recently held.
I draw cartoons. I am creating content that I think people will want to see. As an artist myself, I appreciate the band’s concern over the unauthorized use of their material. Every creative person worries about that. But that is not what is happening here. These two, bands from yesteryear, have spoken up and are trying to reclaim their 30-seconds of fame, for songs that have long been sent to pasture.
By following the logic of the actions these two, has-been bands have taken what can we expect next? If an NFL player sees an, I Love Trump T-shirt in the stands, can he stop playing because he doesn’t agree with the fan’s political views? Of can a musician stop a concert because someone in the front row is wearing and Pro-Life T-shirt?
That sounds super silly, I know. But remember why Kim Davis was put in jail? Of course you do, it was all because she did not agree with what was in front of her and refused to do her job, to register a same-sex couple wanting a marriage license. How is that ANY different than a band from the 1980’s getting their panties in a wad because someone played a commercially available song at an event, at which they did not agree with the theme of. There is no difference.
If a couple who owns a bakery in Oregon is forced to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, despite it being against their religious beliefs, then why does a band have the ability to say when and where their music is being played. This seems like a huge double standard to me.
When Donald Trump took the microphone and the R.E.M. song was playing, he did not say the band was endorsing him and/or his views. There was just music playing that echoed a message they wanted to share with the crowd. Same thing when Kim Davis was released for jail. At no point did she (or anyone there) say that we are so glad that Survivor recorded this song for us and this is all about me.
Music is usually created to be shared and interpreted differently by each person who hears it. Fine art is created to be shared and interpreted differently by each person who sees it. Books are written and shared with people who each interpret it differently.
This is a slippery slope, folks.
Have a great day!
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