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What is a blanket license?

A blanket license is usually issued for live performances of an artist's music

A blanket license is an all-in-one license that allows the licensee to use the music in any form, rather than purchase individual licenses for specific formats like tv, radio, or film. It is typically issued by a PRO, encompasses all of the music of that artist, and is issued most commonly for live performances, where numerous songs will be performed.

A good example of a dispute over a blanket license is Donald Trump’s use of Neil Young’s song “Rockin’ in the Free World” during his political rallies during the 2020 presidential election. In a lawsuit filed by Young in August 2020, he claimed that the Trump campaign did not obtain the proper license to play his music. The suit was later dropped and apparently settled out of court. 

While artists cannot prevent people from using their music if they obtain a blanket license, they can work with their PRO to remove certain songs. A good example of this is the Rolling Stones, who removed “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” from their blanket license after Trump obtained the proper agreement and played it at one of his events