UPDATED, with comment from Ramaswamy’s campaign: Eminem wants Vivek Ramaswamy to lose “Lose Yourself” and other rap works from his campaign’s playlist.
Music rights management service BMI sent Ramaswamy’s campaign a letter notifying them that Marshall Mathers, aka Eminem, had objected to their use of his compositions. (Read the Eminem letter). The BMI attorney, Pamela Williams, also informed them that the Eminem works are being removed from a BMI license agreement with the campaign.
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“BMI will consider any performance of the Eminem Works by the Vivek 2024 campaign from this date forward to be a material breach of the Agreement for which BMI reserves all rights and remedies with respect thereto,” Williams wrote in the letter, which also was obtained by Deadline.
Ramaswamy drew huge attention for performing Eminem’s Oscar-winning 2002 hit “Lose Yourself” at the Iowa State Fair earlier this month.
Although he tried to separate himself from other GOP candidates at last week’s debate, calling them bought and paid for, he falls into a long, long line of Republican contenders who have been hit with cease and desist letters, legal threats and lawsuit from musicians who object to the use of their works.
In this case, it appears that Ramaswamy had a blanket agreement with BMI that allowed for the use of a broad range of works, as is standard, and that the letter was notice that the Eminem works are no longer included.
In the last cycle, the Rolling Stones worked with BMI to try to get the Trump campaign to stop using “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” at rallies. Campaigns often have a license that allows them to play some 15 million works in BMI’s repertoire, but a songwriter or publisher can object to its use.
A BMI spokeswoman confirmed the letter.
Tricia McLaughlin, Ramaswamy’s senior adviser and communications director, said via email, “Vivek just got on the stage and cut loose. To the American people’s chagrin, we will have to leave the rapping to the real slim shady.”
In some cases, artists have sued or have taken campaigns to court. In 2008, Jackson Browne sued the Ohio Republican Party and the campaign of John McCain over the use of “Running on Empty” in a campaign ad. The litigation was settled for an undisclosed sum, and it also came with an apology. The next year, Don Henley sued Chuck DeVore, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in California, for the use of his “The Boys of Summer” and “All She Wants to Do Is Dance” in a campaign video. A judge ruled in Henley’s favor and the case ultimately was settled for an undisclosed sum, also with an apology.
Numerous other acts have publicly objected to the use of their songs at Trump’s campaign rallies over the years, including Neil Young, whose “Rockin’ in the Free World” was played when Trump announced his candidacy after descending an escalator at the Trump Tower in New York in June 2015; Queen for his use of “We Are the Champions” at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland; Rihanna, for the use of her hit song “Don’t Stop the Music” at a 2018 Trump rally in Tallahassee, FL; Pharrell Williams, whose Oscar-nominated “Happy” was played at a Trump rally hours after 11 people were killed at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October 2018.
In 2020, Panic! at the Disco’s Brendon Urie objected after the band’s “High Hopes” played at Trump’s Phoenix event, and the estate of the Tom Petty complained when the late singer‘s “I Won’t Back Down” also was played at a Trump’s rally that year. Young again spoke up in June 2020 after Trump played three of his songs at a Mount Rushmore event.
The Daily Mail‘s Nikki Schwab first reported on the letter.
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