Prince’s Estate (And Fans) Slam Trump For Playing ‘Purple Rain’ At Minneapolis Rally

Topline: As President Trump was about to take the stage at his Minneapolis rally Thursday night, Prince’s “Purple Rain” played in the arena, drawing a sharp rebuke from the late musician’s estate and fans⁠, because Trump broke his year-old promise to stop playing Prince’s music at campaign events.

  • Shortly after the rally ended, Prince’s estate tweeted, “The Prince Estate will never give permission to President Trump to use Prince’s songs.” Attached was a 2018 letter from Trump’s campaign promising to stop using Prince’s music at its events. 
  • Fans blasted Trump’s usage of “Purple Rain,” calling it “sacrilege,” and suggested Prince’s estate sue the campaign.
  • A Buzzfeed News reporter said attendees weren’t into it, either. “They’re playing Purple Rain at this Trump rally and have a group of Minnesotans ever been less enthusiastic.”
  • The Washington Post reported that politicians can secure rights to artists’ songs through music-licensing companies. Artists can opt out of some licensing of their songs, but it depends on which company owns them. 
  • Artists like Rihanna, Neil Young and the Rolling Stones have also asked Trump to not play their music at his campaign events. 
  • Others mentioned last week’s Nickelback copyright dustup, in which Twitter removed the band’s “Photograph” from a Trump tweet. “Imagine getting owned by Prince and Nickelback in the same week,” one fan wrote on Twitter.

Tangent: Minneapolis mayor Jacob Frey clashed with Trump before the rally over a $500,000 security bill. Cities have different policies for who foots the bill during campaign visits. For candidates with Secret Service detail, no federal provision exists for them to repay cities for security costs. It’s not unusual, however, for campaigns to not pay some invoices—both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have failed to. But Trump has a long history of reneging on payments.

Key background: Prince, a Minneapolis native, is considered the city’s pioneer of its 1970s sound that incorporated funk rock, synth pop and new wave. “Purple Rain,” along with Prince’s album and film of the same name, was the artist’s most commercially successful work. According to Prince’s website, Purple Rain was awarded “two Grammys, three American Music Awards, two Brit Awards, and an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score, and the album remained at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for 24 weeks.” Outside of his music, Prince was reportedly close with former president Barack Obama and supported the Black Lives Matter movement before his 2016 death.

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I'm a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I hold a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Previous bylines: G