Beastie Boys approve song use for Biden campaign spot in advertising first

Campaign spokesperson says band agreed to song use due to ‘importance of the election’

Roisin O'Connor
Monday 19 October 2020 11:34
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'He continues to lie to us': Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus

The Beastie Boys agreed to licence one of their songs for the first time ever in a TV advertisement, to accompany a spot for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.

“Sabotage”, the 1994 single from the group’s album Ill Communication, was used in the Democratic candidate’s advert focusing on the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the live music industry.

The late Adam Yauch included a clause in his will stipulating that any music he was involved in would not be used for product advertising purposes.

Beastie Boys have sued companies for using their songs without permission in the past. In 2015, they were awarded $668,000 (£513,648) in legal fees on top of a $1.7m (£1.3m) jury verdict against drinks company Monster Energy.

In the Biden commercial, Joe Malcoun – the owner of The Blind Pig club in Ann Arbor, Michigan – was filmed blaming Donald Trump for what he perceived to be a shortsighted response to the pandemic.

The venue began as a blues club during the early Seventies but developed into a popular all-genres spot that hosted a number of bands in their early days, including Nirvana and Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and REM.

“Everywhere I go, people have a story about the Blind Pig,” Malcoun said in the advert. “The Blind Pig has been one of those clubs that attract artists from all genres. For 50 years, The Blind Pig has been open and crowded, but right now, it’s an empty room. This is the reality of Trump’s Covid response.”

He continued: “We don’t know how much longer we can survive without any revenue. A lot of restaurants and bars that have been mainstays for years will not make it through this. This is Donald Trump’s economy: There is no plan and you don’t know how to go forward. It makes me so angry. My only hope for my family and for this business and my community is that Joe Biden wins this election.”

A Biden campaign spokesperson told Variety that the Beastie Boys, who have “never licensed music for an ad until now”, agreed to the use of “Sabotage” due to “the importance of the election”.

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The advert, set in Michigan, aired on national TV in the US a day after Trump held his rally in the swing state.

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