I don’t believe this is the appropriate forum for comment on Donald Trump, President of the United States. This post is about Donald Trump, the person, which in his case, is the Donald Trump brand—right up Coyote’s alley. I’ll do my best to stay on topic.

As far as we know, a very significant portion of Mr Trump’s net worth is based on the brand value of his name. He now makes more money by licensing his name to real estate developers than he does building his own real estate projects. He has protected the IP of his brand name vigorously through civil litigation and/or the threat of it. As Mr Trump would say, “That’s just good business.” I agree with that.

So why is Mr Trump flaunting international IP laws by continuing to use famous music of famous rock bands at his (previous) campaign and inauguration events and on-going campaign-style rallies as recently as two days ago, without the IP owner’s permission?[1][2] In fact he was explicitly and repeatedly told NOT to use the music of The Rolling Stones, Queen, Aerosmith (so it’s not just a foreign artist thing) and others, by the artists themselves (and possibly, their lawyers), yet he continues. I think we know why and Ad Age has covered this part of the story well.

A History of Getting It Wrong

It’s curious that politicians don’t pay nearly as much attention to the music they are using to promote their brands as business brands do. You may recall Ronald Reagan and others wanting to use Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” for their campaigns, clearly without understanding what the lyrics say about living in America was/is really like for a big swath of the voting public.[3] Catchy title, chorus and tune though.

The Rolling Stones in America, 2016Mr Trump did not make the same mistake with his unauthorised use of Queen’s “We are the Champions”, but that song has been playing in North America sports venues for decades now. But his unauthorised use of The Rolling Stone’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want…” seems like another case of not understanding the song’s message. It doesn’t fit—this is not the way Mr Trump views his Presidency. I need to stray off topic to explain further: I’d say Mr Trump was what America wanted last fall (as defined by electoral districts, anyway), but not what they needed. Now, he may be neither.

Better Trump Music Options

If Mr Trump’s people were to pick something from the same unauthorised catalogue that did fit their leader, “Sympathy for the Devil” probably fits better.

If things don’t go well for Mr Trump on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s wide-ranging Russian interference investigation, maybe it should be “Sweet Black Angel”.

And if Mr Trump were really being honest with himself, it would have to be, yes, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.

Anyway, all three are better songs than what Mr Trump is illegally playing now.

Fake news references:

  1. Nicole Bitette, “President Trump played The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” after a campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday.” , New York Daily News, Aug 22, 2017.
  2. Jessica Finn, “Does Trump always get what he wants?…”, dailymail.com, Aug 23, 2017.
  3. Eveline Chao, “Stop Using My Song: 35 Artists Who Fought Politicians Over Their Music“, Rolling Stone, Jul 8, 2015..
Image Credits:

  1. Main/top image: Graeme Roy/The Canadian Press, 2017. The sign is coming down, rather than going up.
  2. The Rolling Stones image: Chris Jackson/Getty Images, 2016.