The estate of Prince, the musician who died in 2016, pushed back against President Trump’s campaign on Thursday night after the artist’s song “Purple Rain” was played at a Trump rally that night in Minneapolis, the singer’s hometown.
On a Twitter account set up to celebrate the life of the singer, the estate said that Jones Day, the law firm that has represented Mr. Trump in election law matters and continuing lawsuits, had agreed last October that the campaign would not use Prince’s songs at rallies and other events.
The estate posted a letter it said it had received from Jones Day last year. “Without admitting liability, and to avoid any future dispute, we write to confirm that the Campaign will not use Prince’s music in connection with its activities going forward,” the letter said.
The estate said on Twitter that despite that understanding, “Purple Rain” had been played at the Minneapolis rally. “The Prince Estate will never give permission to President Trump to use Prince’s songs,” it said.
A representative for Jones Day was not immediately available for comment on Friday.
Other artists have asked the Trump campaign not to use their music, including Rihanna and Axl Rose, and the wording in the Jones Day letter resembled one also sent to representatives of Steven Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith, who had objected to the playing of his music at Trump events.
Such requests are not unusual for politicians and the arenas where they drum up support. Usually, music rights agencies advise campaigns to buy blanket licenses so they can play music in the agencies’ catalogs wherever they are. Arenas where politicians appear often have a blanket license that allows the venue to play any song in an agency’s catalog.
Sometimes artists find that their music has slipped through into an event for a politician they do not support. In 2018, Pharrell Williams sent a letter to the president after the song “Happy” was played at an event on the day of the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
But the group that hosted the event, the National FFA (Future Farmers of America) Organization, said its organist had played the song without any input from the campaign, The New York Times reported.