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This article intends to review the use of music in the campaigns of American presidential candidates for the election cycles from 2004 through 2016. Each presidential race and campaign has its unique sonic identity or lack thereof, depending on candidate. The authors analyze certain criteria for each candidate to assess whether connections exist between party affiliation, age, and other demographic information for the candidates, song details for the music selected (with title, performer, copyright year), genre of music, demographics of targeted voters, if cease and desist/copyright infringement was waged against candidate usage, and resulting success in polls. To analyze these data, the authors use a mixed methodology combining statistics as well as social network analysis (SNA) presenting visual outputs of the data in the form of networks.
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DOI: 10.1111/jpms.12222
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Pop songs on political platforms
Courtney Blankenship1Stan Renard2
1Western Illinois University
2The University of Texas at San Antonio Abstract
This article intends to review the use of music in the campaigns of
American presidential candidates for the election cycles from 2004
through 2016. Each presidential race and campaign has its unique
sonic identity or lack thereof, depending on candidate. The authors
analyze certain criteria for each candidate to assess whether con-
nections exist between party affiliation, age, and other demographic
information for the candidates, song details for the music selected
(with title, performer, copyright year), genre of music, demograph-
ics of targeted voters, if cease and desist/copyrightinfringement was
waged against candidate usage, and resulting success in polls. To ana-
lyze these data, the authors use a mixed methodology combining
statistics as well as social network analysis (SNA) presenting visual
outputs of the data in the form of networks.
1INTRODUCTION
How important is the role of music in presidential campaigns? And has it changed since 2004? The authors intend to
document and validate their answers to those questions within the framework of an empirical analysis. This article
presents several sets of qualitative and numerical data put into visual format offering the reader an integrated view
of the interaction between the use of music, demographics, and political affiliation of presidential hopefuls, targeted
voters, artist opposition, and poll results. The aim of this study is to reveal patterns and trends resulting from those
interactions to inform the academic and the professional community.
The inspiration for this research was generated from the authors’ interests in music and recent political campaigns
and the methodology used by author Danny O. Crew for his text, American Political Music: a State-by-State Catalog of
Printed and Recorded Music Related to Local, State and National politics, 1756–2004. McFarland Publishing, 2006.
As authors Benjamin S. Schoening and Eric T. Kasper assert in their book Don’t Stop Thinking about the Music: The
Politics of Songs and Musicians in Presidential Campaigns one of the most interesting things about musicis its ability
to affect our emotions” (Schoening & Kasper, 2012). Music can be a powerful component of any visual medium and
used to stir feelings within the listeners, or specifically voters in political campaigns (Hunter, 2015). However, the con-
cept of using music in presidential campaigns is becoming increasingly expected. Justin Patch writes in his dissertation
“Casting spells, casting ballots: Magic, affect, noise and music in political campaigns,” “maybe it’s different because it’s
demanded, an additional dimension of an expanding repertoire, part of the new and emerging cultural practice of the
campaign” (Patch, 2009).
J. Pop. Music Stud. 2017;e12222. wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/jpms c
2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. 1of36
https://doi.org/10.1111/jpms.12222
2of36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
As is commonly known, songwriters, composers, and publishers receive performing rights royalties when their
songs are performed publicly via venues, the radio, cable, satellite, the internet and televised broadcasting. The
performing rights organizations, or PROs (ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC) are the main issuers of licenses and collec-
tors/distributers of royalties to songwriters and publishers. Generally, they can’t be denied if proper licenses are
secured—however in the case of political campaigns, the lines are blurred because musicians are able to prohibit the
use of their songs or performances of songs in political commercials (Tsioulcas, 2016a). According to guidelines on
the ASCAP Web site:
If an artist does not want his or her music to be associated with the campaign, he or she may be able to take legal
action even if the campaign has the appropriate copyright licenses. While the campaign would be in compliance with
copyright law for playing the music, it could potentially be in violation of other laws. Specifically, the campaign could be
liable under any of the following claims:
1. “Right of Publicity,” which in many states provides image protection for famous people or artists.
2. The “Lanham Act,” which covers the confusion or dilution of a trademark (such as a band or artist name) through its
unauthorized use.
3. “False Endorsement” where use of the artist’s identifying work implies that the artist supports a product or candi-
date.
As a general rule, a campaign should be aware that, in most cases, the more closely a song is tied to the “image” or
message of the campaign, the more likely it is that the recording artist or songwriter of the song could object to the
song’s usage in the campaign (ASCAP Web site).
However, according to scholar Susan Schacter, “copyright (law) provides no remedy and existing, alternative reme-
dies are both incapable of protecting the musical artist and ill-equipped to balance the competing First Amendment
interests at stake” (Schacter, 2011). The alternative remedies she’s referring to include the “Right of Publicity,” “Lan-
ham Act,” and “False Endorsement” mentioned above. There is a further complication that the First Amendment only
protects complaining musicians when their likeness (right of publicity) has been used in a commercial sense. Schacter
asserts that uses in political campaigns are difficult to characterize as commercial, therefore a “plaintiff’s prevailing on
a right of publicity claim is difficult, if not impossible” (Schacter, 2011). She believes a new statute should be enacted in
order to account for this gap (Schacter, 2011).
So it is through this lens of potential objections on the part of musicians and overall legal murkiness we begin to
examine the use of popular music in recent presidential campaigns and attempt to discover significant patterns. Con-
nections may also be seen between candidates’ music selection and the identity they aspire to create and resonate
within our culture. Nicholas Enz, Music Professor of Saint Ambrose University comments “music has always been
known as a cultural force because it helps create an identity” (Wadas, 2016). The literature on the topic is limited
in academic journals and this study does not intend to be a comprehensive review of the literature on the topic, but
rather an empirical study.The importance of this study lies in the type of raw data gathered on song usage in the 2004–
2016 campaigns, resulting patterns and ultimately, suggestions for future elections based on those patterns. Addition-
ally, this study uses data that are similar to that of Danny O. Crew, but unlike Crew, this study is specifically looking
closely at presidential candidates and their success, looking for patterns based on specific questions, and incorporating
new criteria relevant to today—such as if musicians/artists objected to the use of their music—whereas Crew exten-
sively reviewed all offices except that of president. Specific criteria, questions addressed, and process is explained in
the “Methodology” section.
2METHODOLOGY
This study intends to assess whether there are connections between the presidential candidates’ music selection, some
of their demographic data (age, ethnicity, sex, and religion), party affiliation, targeted voters, copyright infringement or
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 3of36
opposition by the artists, and corresponding poll results (electoral vote as well as popular vote). This research article
aims to answer several pertinent questions:
1. Is there a correlation between the age of presidential hopefuls and copyright years of songs selected for their cam-
paigns? The authors intend to ascertain whether the candidates use a diverse portfolio of songs with varied copy-
right years, and address if there is a connection between song selection and party affiliation.
2. What are some of the emerging patterns between demographic data of presidential hopefuls (age, ethnicity, sex,
and religion) and the music genre(s) of the songs selected for their campaigns? The authors wish to detect emerging
patterns documenting (1) the most popular and influential music genres used, (2) a correlation between music genre
and political affiliation, and (3) common patterns for the candidates’ ethnicity, sex, religion, age relative to the use
of music, if any.
3. How can we address the correlation between the candidates’ party affiliation and artists’ claims of copyright
infringement? The authors believe that a cultural and legal issue approach is best here and wish to assess if artist
opposition limits the use of music by Republican candidates.
4. Is there a specific connection between the music genres selected by the campaigns and the demographics of their
targeted voters? A class analysis will support addressing the implications of this question.
5. And, how significant is the number of songs and music genres used in campaigns and how does it affect the election
results? And, is there a pattern between the average copyright years of the music selected and election results?
To answer those questions, a mixed methodology was required. Two sets of data were collected: numerical and qual-
itative. When numerical data were available (i.e., age of candidates and copyright year), linear statistics such as scatter
diagrams or line graphs were the best tool at hand to present correlations and trends. However, to show emerging
patterns and behaviors using qualitative data, the use of nonlinear modeling was preferred. For this task, the authors
chose to use social network analysis (SNA) and the SNA software package ORA, developed by Dr. Kathleen Carley.
SNA focuses on ties among agents within a network to reveal emerging patterns resulting from those connections. It
appeared an ideal fit to use SNA in this study to assess whether the demographics of targeted voters and candidates’
music selection were connected and how. In the subsequent sections of this article, details about the data collected for
this study are discussed, followed by the authors’ analysis aiming to answer the questions stated as aforementioned.
2.1 Data collection
The data collected for this study include the names of the candidates, party affiliation, age, religion, sex, and ethnicity,
selection of music for their campaign with associated music genre including performers, copyright year for each song,
and whether there was opposition for the use of the music selected, as well as corresponding poll results. Tables 1
through 5, and Table 10 display these data. The selection of the candidates included in this study was based upon their
use of music in their political campaigns. Thus, a candidate such as Governor Christopher James “Chris” Christie was
not included in the 2016 data collection because he did not have a clearly defined music strategy and did not use any
song in his campaign.
Please note that the authors have attempted to highlight where there was opposition or an accusation of copy-
right infringement on the part of musicians to demonstrate their ability to either lend their support of or deny it, to
a particular candidate, and how the candidates’ messages or identities are underscored by the use of particular musi-
cians/genres.Only in one case, with REM versus Trump, has a full legal suit of copyright infringement been levied. Mean-
ing, most of these cases of opposition involve either cease and desist orders, or claims of copyright infringement when
a musician may not fully understand the legal definition of licensing. Neil Young is an example of the latter case when
he publicly decried the use of “Rockin in the Free World” by Trump, yet a year later decided it was okaysince Trump had
paid for it (Payne, 2016). Additionally, when a musician requests a candidate to refrain from using their music, in most
cases their wishes are respected, but not always. In fact with Trump, he seems undeterred by objections. When Adele
4of36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
TAB LE 1 Data collected for 2004 election cycle
Candidate Party affiliation Target demographic Age Music selections Genre Performer Copyright year Opposition Poll results
George W. Bush Republican Conservative 58 Only in America Country Brooks and Dunn 2001 No 53.16%
Candidate Party Affiliation Target Demographic Age Music Selections Genre Performer Copyright Year Opposition Poll Results
John Kerry Democrat Liberals
Independents and
Moderates
61 Fortunate Son Rock Creedance Clearwater Revival 1969 No 46.65%
No Surrender Rock Bruce Springsteen 1984 No
Sources: Cosgrove, 2007, Griffiths, 2016, Jones and Carroll, 2004, Vandetti & Balz, 2004.
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 5of36
FIGURE 1 Scatter diagram assessing a correlation between the age of candidates and the year of release of the songs
chosen for the campaigns (2004 Election Year Data) [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
told Trump to stop using her music, he defied her days later by playing her “Skyfall” as his helicopter landed at a public
rally (Maicki, 2016). Yet, this lens is still important to examine because in defying musicians’ wishes, Trump is sending
the message that the usual rules may not apply to him.
3ANALYSIS
3.1 Candidate age and song copyrights year
This initial section of the analysis considers whether there is a correlation between the age of presidential hopefuls and
the copyright year of songs selected for their campaigns. Scatter graphs are employed here to depict any correlation
between those two factors. The age of the candidates is shown on the vertical axis and the copyright years for the songs
used are displayed on the horizontal axis. Significant patterns are circled within the scatter graphs.
In 2004, presidential nominee George W. Bush successfully used the then more recent country song “Only in Amer-
ica” by Brooks and Dunn (2001), whereas the Democratic candidate that year, John Kerry, chose to associate himself
with two classic rock songs from 1969 and 1984 (cf. Table 1 and Figure 1 ). During the 2008 presidential election cycle,
the Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had the most diversified playlist and associated them-
selves with a cluster of contemporary songs (cf. Table 2(b) and Figure 2). By diversified playlist, the authors imply that
the candidates used a list of songs spanning multiple music genres and a wide time stamp/copyright year range. Con-
trastingly to Obama and Clinton in 2008, the Republican opponent John McCain only used one contemporary song,
“Our Country” by John Mellencamp (2006). McCain was asked to refrain from using the song by the artist because the
work was used without the permission from both John Mellencamp and its publisher Riva Records (cf. Table 2(a)).
The cluster mentioned earlier validates the Democratic candidates’ use of more recent songs in their campaigns (cf.
Figure 2). Tables 1–4 and Figures 1–4 show a trend of presidential campaigns spreading out musically by increasing
the number of songs, number of genres, and copyright years used. Modern campaigns have seen young and minority
voters increasingly weighing on elections, thus the need by candidates to use music that appeal to their target voters.
This trend is further documented in subsequent parts of the analysis.
Again, in 2012, Barack Obama secured his presidency with an expansive and diversified playlist of 41 songs includ-
ing 17 songs from the 21st century (cf. Table 3(b) and Figure 3). Contrastingly, the Republican opponent Mitt Romney
chose to select only four songs for his campaign and only two contemporary songs, “Born Free” by Kid Rock (2010) and
6of36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
TAB LE 2(a) Data collected for 2008 election cycle for Republican candidates
Candidate
Party
affiliation
Ta r g e t
demographic Age Music selections Genre Performer Copyright year Opposition Poll results
John McCain Republican Conservatives 71 Barracuda Hard Rock Heart 1977 Yes 32.16%
Take A Chance On Me Pop ABBA 1977 No
Our Country Heartland Rock John Mellencamp 2006 Yes
Pink Houses Heartland Rock John Mellencamp 1983 Yes
Running on Empty Rock Jackson Browne 1977 Yes - Won Law
Suit
Mitt Romney Republican Younger,less well-
educated
61 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Ended campaign
Feb. 7, 2008
Mike Huckabee Republican Christian
Evangelicals
52 More Than a Feeling Hard Rock Boston 1976 Ye s Ended campaign
March 4, 2008
Rand Paul Republican Libertarian Voters 72 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A Ended campaign
June 12, 2008
Rudy Giuliani Republican Evangelicals 63 Take us Out Sound-track Jerry Goldsmith 1993 No Ended campaign
Social
Conservatives
Rudie Can’t Fail Rock Punk Ska TheClash 1979 No Jan. 30, 2008
Sources: Chao, 2015, Coleman, 2010, Griffiths, 2016.
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 7of36
TAB LE 2(b) Data collected for 2008 election cycle for Democratic candidates
Candidate
Party
affiliation Targetdemographic Age Music selections Genre Performer
Copyright
year Opposition Poll results
Barack
Obama
Democrat African Americans,
Lower Class,
Students,
Independents
46 Yes We Can Pop will.i.am 2008 No 67.84%
Better Way Blues Rock Ben Harper 2006 No
Signed, Sealed,
Delivered
Soul Stevie Wonder 1970 No
City of Blinding
Lights
Rock U2 2005 No
Higher and Higher R&B Jackie Wilson 1967 No
Think Soul Aretha Franklin 1968 No
The Rising Rock Bruce Springsteen 2002 No
Only in America Country Brooks & Dunn 2001 No
Make it to the Sun Hip Hop Reggae
Electronic Trap
Ruwanga Samath and
Maxwell D
2008 No
Barack Obama Reggae Calypso JFC 2008 No
Hold On, I’m
Comin
Soul Sam Moore 1966 Yes
Unite the Nation Hip Hop Misa/Misa 2008 No
Hillary
Clinton
Democrat Women/ Middle class 60 Blue Sky Rock Big Head Todd and
the Monsters
2007 No Ended campaign
June 7, 2008
Suddenly I See Pop Rock KT Tunstall 2005 No
You and I Pop Celine Dion 2004 No
Takin’ Care of
Business
Rock Bachman-Turner
Overdrive
1974 No
9 to 5 Country Pop Dolly Parton 1980 No
American Girl Rock Tom Petty 1976 No
(continues)
8of36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
TAB LE 2(b) (Continued)
Candidate
Party
affiliation Target demographic Age Music selections Genre Performer
Copyright
year Opposition Poll results
Right Here, Right
Now
Alt. Rock Dance Jesus Jones 1990 No
You Ain’t Seen
Nothing Yet
Pop Rock Bachman-Turner
Overdrive
1974 No
John
Edwards
Democrat Women/ Middle class 54 Our Country Heartland Rock John Mellencamp 2006 No Ended campaign
College Students Jan. 30, 2008
Dennis
Kucinich
Democrat Hispanics 61 Give Peace a
Chance
Folk Rock John Lennon 1969 No Ended campaign
Middle Class Jan. 24, 2008
Joe Biden Democrat Women/Middle Class 65 Centerfield Roots Rock Joe Fogerty 1985 No Ended campaign
LGBT Jan. 3, 2008
Christ-
opher
Dodd
Democrat Catholics 63 Get Ready Soul/R&B The Temptations 1965 No Ended campaign
Jan. 3, 2008
Upper Class Reach Out I’ll be
There
Soul/R&B The Four Tops 1966 No
Tom
Vilsack
Democrat Iowa 57 Let the Day Be gin Rock New Wave The Call 1989 No Ended campaign
Feb. 23, 2007
Sources: Chao, 2015, Coleman, 2010, Griffiths, 2016.
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 9of36
TAB LE 3(a) Data collected for 2012 election cycle for Republican candidates
Candidate Party affiliation Target demographic Age Music selections Genre Performer Copyright year Opposition Poll results
Mitt Romney Republican Conservatives, Less
Educated Youth
65 Born Free Country Rock Kid Rock 2010 No 38.29%
God Bless America Patriotic Song Mitt Romney 1918 No
Wavin’ Flag Reggae Fusion K’naan 2009 Yes - Pulled
America the Beautiful Patriotic Song Mitt Romney 1895 No
Rand Paul Republican Libertarian Voters 76 The Imperial March Soundtrack Boston Symphony
Orchestra
1980 No Ended campaign
May 14, 2012
Newt Gingrich Republican Conservatives 68 Eye of the Tiger Rock Survivor 1982 Yes Ended campaign May 2,
2012
How Do You Like Me
Now?
Rock Heavy 2009 Yes
Rick Santorum Republican Very conservative 53 Remember Who We
Are
Rock Krista Branch 2010 No - Endorsed Ended campaign
April 10, 2012
Sources: Gilbert, 2012, Gilbert, 2012, Makarechi, 2012, McKinney, 2015, O’Neal, 2012, Owens, 2012, Stauer, 2012, Wolf, 2012.
10 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
TAB LE 3(b) Data collected for 2012 election cycle for Democratic candidates
Candidate
Party
affiliation
Ta r g e t
demographic Age
Music
selections Genre Performer
Copyright
year Opposition Poll results
Barack
Obama
Democrat African American,
Young Voters
50 Let’s Stay
Toge th e r
Soul Al Green 1971 No 61.71%
Different
People
Alt. Rock No Doubt 1995 No
Spotify Playlist with 41
songs
GotToGet
YouIntoMy
Life
Rhythm and
blues
Earth Wind & Fire
Experience
1977 No
feat. Al McKay
Allstars
Green Onions R&B/Soul Booker T. & The
MG’s
1962 No
IGotYou Alt. Rock Wilco 1996 No
Keep On
Pushing
R&B/Soul The Impressions 1964 No
Love You I Do R&B/Soul Jennifer Hudson
Dreamgirls
2006 No
No Nostalgia Rock Agesand-Ages 2011 No
Raise Up R&B/Soul Ledisi 2011 No
Stand Up Country Sugarland 2011 No
This Country Darius Rucker 2010 No
We Used to
Wait
Indie Rock Arcade Fire 2010 No
Your Smiling
Face
Pop James Taylor 1977 No
Roll With The
Changes
Rock REO
Speed-wagon
1978 No
(continues)
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 11 of 36
TAB LE 3(b) (Continued)
Candidate
Party
affiliation
Ta r g e t
demographic Age
Music
selections Genre Performer
Copyright
year Opposition Poll results
Keep Marchin’ R&B/Soul Raphael Saadiq 2008 No
You’veGot
The Love
Dance Florence +The
Machine
2009 No
Tonight’s The
Kind Of
Night
Indie Pop Noah And The
Whale
2011 No
Keep Me In
Mind
Country, Jam
Band
Zac Brown Band 2011 No
The Weight R&B/Soul Aretha Franklin 1970 No
Even Better
Than The
Real Thing
Alt. Rock U2 1992 No
Home Country Dierks Bentley 2011 No
Everyday
America
Country Sugarland 2007 No
Learn To Live Country Darius Rucker 2008 No
Mr. Blue Sky Pop Rock Electric Light
Orchestra
1978 No
My Town Country Montgom-ery
Gentry
2002 No
The Best
Thing About
Me Is You
Latin Pop Ricky Martin 2010 No
Feat. Joss
Stone
You Are The
Best Thing
Folk
Rock/Soul
Ray La-Montagne 2008 No
We Take Care
Of Our Own
Rock Bruce Springsteen 2012 No
Sources: Gilbert, 2012, Gilbert, 2012, Makarechi, 2012, McKinney, 2015, O’Neal, 2012, Owens, 2012, Stauer, 2012, Wolf, 2012.
12 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
FIGURE 2 Scatter diagram assessing correlation between the age of candidates and the year of release of the songs
chosen for the campaigns (2008 Election Year Data) [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
FIGURE 3 Scatter diagram assessing correlation between the age of candidates and the year of release of the songs
chosen for the campaigns (2012 Election Year Data) [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
“Wavin’ Flag” by Keinan Abdi Warsame, better known by his stage name K’naan (2009) used without the permission of
the artist. Romney was asked to pull the song from his campaign, which he did (cf. Table 3(a)).
In the most recent elections, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton used the most comprehensive and diversified
music strategy of all candidates. Twenty-two out of 30 of the songs selected belong to the 21st century (cf. Table 4(b)
and Figure 4). On the other hand, Republican nominee Donald Trump has only been using four songs regularly up until
the Republican National Convention, but since then, he has increased drastically his portfolio of songs up to 18 with
only one contemporary song, “Skyfall” by Adele (2012) (cf. Table 4(a)). The remainder of the songs that Trump used span
from 1924 to 1989, bypassing altogether the 90s and most of the 21st century. In recent campaigns, a major increase
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 13 of 36
TAB LE 4(a) Data collected for 2016 election cycle for Republican candidates
Candidate
Party
affiliation
Ta r g e t
demographic Age Music selections Genre Performer
Copyright
year Opposition Poll results
Donald Trump Republican Conservative 69 It’s the End of the
World As We
Know it
Alt. Rock REM 1987 Yes 53.90%
Rockin’ in the
Free World
Hard Rock Neil Young 1989 Yes
Dream On Classic Rock Aero-smith 1973 Yes
Skyfall Orchestral Pop Adele 2012 Yes
We Are the
Champions
Pop Rock Queen 1977 Yes
You Shook Me All
Night Long
Hard Rock ACDC 1980 No
All Right Now Hard Rock Free 1970 No
Tiny Dancer Pop Rock Elton John 1971 Ye s
Rocket Man Pop Rock Elton John 1972 Yes
Happy Together Pop Rock The Turtles 1967 Ye s
We’re Not Gonna
Ta ke I t
Pop Rock Twisted Sister 1984 Yes
Here Comes the
Sun
Pop Rock The Beatles 1969 Yes
Hey Jude Rock/Pop Rock The Beatles 1968 Yes
Nessun Dorma
from Turandot
Opera Luciano
Pavarotti
1924 Yes
Phantom of the
Opera
Musical N/A 1986 No
Start Me Up Hard Rock Rolling Stones 1981 Yes
Brown Sugar Hard Rock RollingStones 1971 Yes
(continues)
14 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
TAB LE 4(a) (Continued)
Candidate
Party
affiliation
Ta r g e t
demographic Age Music selections Genre Performer
Copyright
year Opposition Poll results
You Can’t Always
Get
Hard Rock Rolling Stones 1969 Yes
What You Want
Mike
Huckabee
Republican Conservative
Christian
60 Eye of the Tiger Hard Rock Survivor 1982 Yes Ended campaign
Feb. 1, 2016
Ben Carson Republican African
Americans
64 Campaign Song
(written for
campaign)
Hip Hop Alexi von
Guggen-
berg
2015 No Ended campaign
March 4, 2016
Freedom (written
for campaign)
Christian Rap Aspiring
Mogul
2015 No
Marco Rubio Republican Bold Young,
Conserva-
tives,
Latinos
44 Something New EDM/Progressive/
House
Axwell &
Ingrosso
2014 Yes Ended campaign
March 15, 2016
Ted Cruz Republican Conservative,
Christian,
Latinos
45 Set it on Fire Christian Rap We Are
Watch-men
2015 No Ended campaign
May 3, 2016
It’s the End of the
World As We
Know it
Alt. Rock REM 1987 Yes - sued for
$2.5 Million
Jeb Bush Republican Conservative
who appeals
to Latinos
63 Workingman’s
Hymn
Rock Josh Davis 2011 No Ended campaign
Feb. 20, 2016
Sources: Abramson, 2016, Ashagre, 2015, Bailey, 2016, Bedard, 2015, Campbell, 2017, Carissimo, 2016, Cheney & Crowley, 2016, Coleman, 2015, Faulders, 2015, First, 2015, Funaro, 2015,
Gajewski, 2015, Getto & Maule, 2015, Gilbert, 2012, Hampp, 2015, Haskell, 2015, Jerkovich, 2016, Jones, 2015, K, 2015, Kopan, 2015, Kurtz, 2015, Lavender, 2015, Loyd, 2016, Lynch, 2015,
McKinney, 2015, Meet the Man Behind the Ben Carson Rap [Audio blog interview] 2015, Milbank, 2004, Morrison, 2015, Murphy, 2015, Santilli, 2016, Stein, 2016, Sterling, 2016, Tesfaye,
2015, The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) 2016, Tsioulcas, 2016a, Tsioulcas, 2016b, Vivinetto, 2015, Vulpo, 2015, Walker, 2015, Wilstein, 2015, Zaru, 2016.
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 15 of 36
TAB LE 4(b) Data collected for 2016 election cycle for Democratic candidates
Candidate
Party
affiliation
Ta r g e t
demographic Age Music selections Genre Performer
Copyright
year Opposition Poll results
Hillary Clinton Democrat Middle Class,
Women, Latin
Americans
67 Taken from the Official Playlist 42.40%
Happy Soul Pharrell Williams 2013 No
What Doesn’t Kill
You
Pop
Rock/Dance
Pop
Kelly Clarkson 2012 No
Roar Power Pop Katy Perry 2013 No
Brave Pop/Power Pop Sara Bareilles 2013 No
Believer Indie Rock/Pop
Rock
American Authors 2012 No
Best Day of My
Life
Indie Rock/Pop
Rock
American Authors 2013 No
The Fighter Pop Rap/Alt.
Hip Hop
Gym Class Heroes 2012 No
Wake Up
Everybody
R&B Soul John Legend/The
Roots
2010 No
Pumpkin Blood Indie Pop NoNoNo 2013 No
Fighters Pop Rock/Alt
Rock
Kris Allen 2012 No
Beautiful Day
(Neverland
Soundtrack)
Rock Anthem Jon Bon Jovi 2015 No
VivirMiVida Salsa y
Tropical,
Latin
Marc Anthony 2013 No
(continues)
16 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
TAB LE 4(b) (Continued)
Candidate
Party
affiliation
Ta r g e t
demographic Age Music selections Genre Performer
Copyright
year Opposition Poll results
Let’s Get Loud Latin Dance,
Salsa
Jennifer Lopez 1999 No
Motown Philly New jack swing Boys II Men 1991 No
Confident Pop Demi Lovato 2015 No
You’veGot a
Friend
Pop Rock Carole King 1971 No
Let Love Rule Rock Funk Lenny Kravitz 1989 No
Bridge Over
Troubled Water
Folk Rock Simon &
Garfunkel
1970 No
Rise Up R&B Andra Day 2015 No
Superwoman R&B Alicia Keys 2007 No
In Common R&B Alicia Keys 2016 No
Fight Song Indie Pop Rachel Platten 2015 No
Rise Power Pop Katy Perry 2016 No
Stronger Together Pop Jessica Sanchez 2016 No
We Remain Alt/Indie Christine Aguilara 2013 No
Cheers to the Fall Soul Andra Day 2015 No
Don’t You Worry
Bout a Thing
R&B Stevie Wonder 1973 No
IWish R&B/Soul Stevie Wonder 1976 No
(continues)
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 17 of 36
TAB LE 4(b) (Continued)
Candidate
Party
affiliation
Ta r g e t
demographic Age Music selections Genre Performer
Copyright
year Opposition Poll results
IWasMadeto
Love Her
R&B/Soul Stevie Wonder 1967 No
What the World
Needs Now
Soul Jackie Deshannon 1965 No
Bernie
Sanders
Democrat Middle Class,
Lower Class,
White Voters
74 Rockin’ in the
Free World
Hard Rock Neil Young 1989 No Endorsed
Hillary
Clinton
July 12, 2016
Starman Glam Rock David Bowie 1972 No
Revolution Starts
Now
Alt Country Steve Ear le 2004 No
This Land is Your
Land
Folk Vamp ire
Weekend
1956 No
Power to the
People
Rock John Lennon 1971 No
Talkin’Bout a Contemp. Rock Tracy Chapman 1988 No
America Folk Rock Simon &
Garfunkel
1968 No
Sources: Abramson, 2016, Ashagre, 2015, Bailey, 2016, Bedard, 2015, Campbell, 2017, Carissimo, 2016, Cheney & Crowley, 2016, Coleman, 2015, Faulders, 2015, First, 2015, Funaro, 2015,
Gajewski, 2015, Getto & Maule, 2015, Gilbert, 2012, Hampp, 2015, Haskell, 2015, Jerkovich, 2016, Jones, 2015, K, 2015, Kopan, 2015, Kurtz, 2015, Lavender, 2015, Loyd, 2016, Lynch, 2015,
McKinney, 2015, Meet the Man Behind the Ben Carson Rap [Audio blog interview] 2015, Milbank, 2004, Morrison, 2015, Murphy, 2015, Santilli, 2016, Stein, 2016, Sterling, 2016, Tesfaye,
2015, The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) 2016, Tsioulcas, 2016a, Tsioulcas, 2016b, Vivinetto, 2015, Vulpo,2015, Walker, 2015, Wilstein, 2015, Zaru, 2016.
18 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
FIGURE 4 Scatter diagram assessing correlation between the age of candidates and the year of release of the songs
chosen for the campaigns (2016 Election Year Data) [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
in the number of songs and song variety used by a candidate can be seen once that candidate is nominated to represent
his or her party (i.e., 17 songs were recorded in Hillary Clinton’s campaign prior to her nomination).
From the data consolidated and seen in Figure 1–4, severalpatterns are emerging. First, younger presidential candi-
dates, Republican and Democrats alike, tend to select pop songs copyrighted more recently (21st century), while older
candidates chose to select songs that appeal to an older demographic (60s to early 90s songs and mostly rock music).
Second, Democratic candidates have a more diversified as well as a larger selection of music than Republican candi-
dates. Finally, the data from the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 elections have shown that party nominees using contem-
porary tunes rather than songs prior to the 21st century won the popular vote and—discounting the 2016 election—
secured the election.
3.2 Candidate selected demographic, political affiliation, and music genre selection
As mentioned in the “Methodology” section of this article, SNA focuses on ties among agents within a network (cf.
Figure 5), in the present case the candidate demographics (age, religion, sex, ethnicity), political affiliation, and music
genres (cf. Table 5 and Figure 6). Those ties combined form networks, which are then analyzed. Interpersonal ties
matter because they transmit behavior, attitudes, and information. Therefore, SNA offers the methodology to ana-
lyze social relations as it tells us how to conceptualize social networks and how to analyze them (Renard, Goodrich, &
Fellman, 2012; Renard, Goodrich, & Rossiter, 2011, and Renard, Faulk, & Goodrich, 2013). The main goal of SNA is to
detect and interpret patterns of social ties among factors.
The first social network visualization presented below is based upon the data in Table 5 (cf. Figure 6). For readers
who are new to SNA, only a few general concepts are important when interpreting such models:
Nodes also known as agents represent here either the candidates or information about them (religion, age, ethnicity,
sex, party affiliation) and music genres used during their campaigns.
The links are the connections representing affiliations and associations between nodes.
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 19 of 36
TAB LE 5 Candidates demographics and music genre selection
2004
candidates Age Genre Religion Sex Ethnicity Party
George W.
Bush
58 Country United Methodist Male White Republican
John Kerry 61 Rock Roman Catholic Male White Democrat
2008
Candidates Age Genre Religion Sex Ethnicity Party
John McCain 71 Hard Rock, Pop,
Heartland Rock, Rock
Baptist
Congregant
Male White Republican
Mike
Huckabee
52 Hard Rock Southern Baptist Male White Republican
Rudy Giuliani 63 Soundtrack, Rock, Punk /
Ska
Roman Catholic Male White Republican
Barack
Obama
46 Pop, Blues Rock, Soul,
Rock, R&B, Country,
Hip Hop, Reggae
Protestant Male African
American
Democrat
Hillary Clinton 60 Rock, Pop Rock, Pop,
Country Pop,
Alternative Rock
United Methodist Female White Democrat
John Edwards 54 Heartland Rock United Methodist Male White Democrat
Dennis
Kucinich
61 Folk Rock Roman Catholic Male White Democrat
Joe Biden 65 Roots Rock Roman Catholic Male White Democrat
Christopher
Dodd
63 Soul/R&B Roman Catholic Male White Democrat
Tom Vilsack 57 Rock New Wave Roman Catholic Male White Democrat
(continues)
20 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
TAB LE 5 (Continued)
2012
candidates Age Genre Religion Sex Ethnicity Party
Mitt Romney 65 Country Rock, Patriotic song,
Rock, World Music
Mormon Male White Republican
Rand Paul 76 Soundtrack Southern Baptist Male White Republican
Newt Gingrich 68 Rock Roman Catholic Male White Republican
Rick Santorum 53 Rock Roman Catholic Male White Republican
Barack
Obama
50 Pop, Blues Rock, Soul, Rock,
R&B, Country, Hip Hop,
Reggae
Protestant Male African
American
Democrat
Alt. Rock, Rock, Indie Rock,
Dance, Latin Pop, Folk
Rock
2016
candidates Age Genre Religion Sex Ethnicity Party
Donald Trump 69 Alt. Rock, Hard Rock, Classic
Rock, Orchestral Pop, Pop
Rock, Musical, Opera
Presbyterian Male White Republican
Mike
Huckabee
60 Hard Rock Southern Baptist Male White Republican
Ben Carson 64 Hip Hop, Christian Rap Seventh-day
Adventist
Male African
American
Republican
Marco Rubio 44 EDM/Progressive, House Roman Catholic Male Cuban
American
Republican
Ted Cruz 45 Christian Rap, Alt. Rock Southern Baptist Male White Republican
Jeb Bush 63 Rock United Methodist Male White Republican
Hillary Clinton 67 Soul/Neosoul, Pop Rock,
Dance Pop, Power Pop,
United Methodist Female White Democrat
Indie Rock, Pop Rap, Hip Hop,
R&B Soul, Rock Anthem,
Latin Dance, Salsa
Bernie
Sanders
74 Hard Rock, Folk Rock, Rock,
Country
Judaism Male White Democrat
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 21 of 36
FIGURE 5 SNA density calculation [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
TAB LE 6 Corresponding measures for Figure 6
Node count 87
Link count 176
Density measure 0.023523
TTD centrality measure for the male node 0.122093
TTD centrality measure for the white node 0.110465
TTD centrality measure for the rock node 0.068953
TTD centrality measure for the Catholic node 0.052326
TTD centrality measure for the country node 0.029070
TTD centrality measure for the alternative rock node 0.023256
TTD centrality measure for the hard rock node 0.023256
Networks can be directed or undirected. In a directed SNA, the connections are organized with directional flow, mean-
ing that information comes from one node and goes to another. All SNAs presented in this article are directed net-
works but the directional arrows have been removed to avoid visual clutter.
The density measure gives us a benchmark to assess how cohesive the network is. A density of 1 means that all nodes
are equidistant to the center of the network. For details on density calculations, refer to Figure 5.
The color and size of each node has been attributed a total-degree centrality (TDC) measure. TDC of a node is the
normalized sum of its in-degree and out-degree (incoming and outgoing links) (cf. Table 6). Also, the more central a
node is to the model, the more connected and influential that node is.
22 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
FIGURE 6 Candidates demographics and music selection genre SNA [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlineli-
brary.com]
Nodes placement and elasticity are assigned by the visualization software ORA based on the links assigned, their
TDC measures, and the network’s density measure. Thus, larger and more central nodes are more influential. SNA
models are somewhat elastic but networks with many nodes tend to be less elastic. Elasticity allows users to stretch
or reorient some of the clusters when manipulating the model within the visualization software package.
Finally,the SNAs models presented in this study are three-dimensional (cf. Figure 7) and dynamic in nature. However,
the two-dimensional visual representations are easier to read and interpret and thus, presented here instead.
The SNA in Figure 6 shows what genres of music are most commonly used by presidential candidates based on
a selection of a few demographic data points (age, ethnicity, sex, and religion), party affiliation, and music selection
covering the 2004 to 2016 election cycles. This model has 87 nodes, 176 directed links, and a relatively low density
measure of 0.023523, indicating a high quantity of outliers.
Figure 6 indicates that most candidates tend to be white males (as shown with a centrality measure of 0.122093 for
male candidates and 0.110465 for white candidates) in their early to mid-60s who are prominently Roman Catholics
(0.052326). United Methodists and Southern Baptists are the other two well-represented religious affiliations. Also,
the model shows that rock music (0.068953) is closely tied to Republican candidates and is also the most central music
genre. The model informs us that the second most popular genre is country music (0.029070) and is closely tied to
Democratic candidates. It is followed closely by alternative rock (0.023256) and hard rock (0.023256) tied for third
position as the most influential and widely used music genres in presidential campaigns. Also, hard rock more so than
alternative rock is shown at proximity of the white, male, Republican, and catholic nodes and thus, closely connected
to them. Other music genres that have seen traction are pop, hip hop, soul, rhythm and blues (R&B), and folk rock.
Contrastingly, those music genres are seen almost exclusively tied to Democratic candidates. The music genres that
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 23 of 36
FIGURE 7 3D representation of SNA in Figure 6 [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
TAB LE 7 Corresponding measures for Figure 8
Node count 30
Link count 32
Density measure 0.036782
Centrality measure for the Clinton node 0.208697
Centrality measure for the Trump node 0.120690
Centrality measure for the Sanders node 0.103448
Centrality measure for the rock node 0.051724
Centrality measure for the alternative rock node 0.051724
Centrality measure for the hard rock node 0.051724
Centrality measure for the folk rock node 0.034483
have not been mentioned seem to be less influential in the model, and thus, get less usage by the candidates’ campaigns,
and shown as outliers in the model.
With 30 nodes, 32 links and a more cohesive density of 0.036782 than Figure 6, the network showcased in
Figure 8 gives the reader a snapshot of the most dominant music genres selected by candidates during the 2016 presi-
dential elections. Considering solely the choices from the presidential hopefuls in 2016, this model shows that the most
dominant music genres were rock tied with alternative rock, and hard rock (same centrality measure of 0.051724,
cf. Table 7). Folk rock is another influential music genre that defined the musical identity of the 2016 presidential
24 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
FIGURE 8 Candidates demographics and music selection genre SNA for 2016 [Color figure can be viewed at wiley-
onlinelibrary.com]
campaign (0.034483). The model also informs us that Clinton (0.208697) had the most comprehensive selection of
music genres, followed by Trump (0.120690),and Sanders (0.103448).
3.2.1 Candidates, song titles, and cultural connections (2016)
Looking at the titles/content of the music selections of the 2016 presidential candidates it becomes clear that Trump’s
selections focus more on being the “best” or “winning,” even in the operatic selections; whereas Clinton’s selections
are more related to “fighting” or “bravery.” Trump also has an eclectic mix, opera is not a typical choice of presidential
candidates, and they reflect his unpredictability that is part of the image he projects (Jamieson, 2016).
Clinton’s main crowd might be middle-aged women, whom, one could argue aren’t the main target of top 20 2015–
2016 hits that attract younger people. Dr. Dana Gorzelany-Mostak, Assistant Professor of Music at Georgia College
and creator of the traxonthetrail.com research site documenting campaign music use explains“nobody hears their cool
music and changes their mind about who they are voting for; campaign music should rally people that already support
you” (Jamieson, 2016). So perhaps Clinton’s use of Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” circa 1971 is a call to action for
middle-aged female supporters. Sanders’ selections convey a strong association with the civil rights movements of the
60s and that revolutionary spirit (Jamieson, 2016). He appeals to younger voters by having famed dj “DJ Mel” spin funk
at his rallies and even had his own music festival in Omaha, Nebraska: Bernanza (Morrison, 2016). Sanders was much
more successful than Clinton in capturing the 18–34 demographic (Deiterman, 2016).
Why Republicans fail to secure broad support in the music industry could be as simple as they have a tendency to
hold more conservative views while the arts communities are known for more liberal leanings. Either way, writers are
comfortable stating this as a common fact as Corey Deiterman of The Houston Press writes “As usual, the Republican
side is struggling to find supporters in the industry” (Deiterman, 2016). Trump was also viewed as a bit of a wild card
and securing credible artists to back his volatile tone proved difficult. Ted Cruz alienated himself from the rock industry
as a whole when after 9/11 he criticized the genre and claimed he was only listening to country music from that point on
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 25 of 36
TAB LE 8 Corresponding measures for Figure 12
Node count 45
Link count 186
Density measure 0.093939
Centrality measure for the Clinton node 0.272727
Centrality measure for the white node 0.261369
Centrality measure for the Republican node 0.227273
Centrality measure for the women node 0.193182
Centrality measure for the young voters node 0.193182
Centrality measure for the middle class node 0.193182
Centrality measure for the Democrat node 0.193182
Centrality measure for the lower class node 0.181818
Centrality measure for the middle age node 0.181818
Centrality measure for the Christian node 0.181818
Centrality measure for the Trump node 0.159091
Centrality measure for the upper class node 0.147727
Centrality measure for the Hispanic node 0.136364
Centrality measure for the African American node 0.113636
Centrality measure for the seniors node 0.090909
Centrality measure for the alternative rock node 0.056818
Centrality measure for the hip hop node 0.056818
Centrality measure for the Christian rap node 0.056818
Centrality measure for the hard rock node 0.056818
Centrality measure for the rock node 0.045455
Centrality measure for the pop and power pop node 0.045455
Centrality measure for the pop rock node 0.034091
Centrality measure for the salsa node 0.034091
Centrality measure for the R&B node 0.034091
(Maicki, 2016). The music world seems to more readily support the Democrats. Most rappers endorsed either Sanders
or Clinton; Snoop Dogg backing Clinton and Kanye West, Killer Mike and Lil B supporting Sanders (Deiterman, 2016).
But not all, as Christian rap artist Aspiring Mogul stood firmly in Ben Carson’s camp (see Table 4).
The lack of variety in Republican choices of music is likely due to two reasons, their group of supporters is less
diverse than that of the Democrats and their set of beliefs does not resonate as well with liberal-minded musicians,
who make up more of the industry. Dr. Gorzelany-Mostak’s words “campaign music should rally people that already
support you,” means if Republicans have a less diverse group of supporters, theoretically less genres of music should
be required to rally them (Jamieson, 2016).
3.3 Party affiliation and artists’ opposition/copyright infringement claims
The following analysis investigates whether a correlation between the candidates’ party affiliation, age of candidates,
and music copyright infringement or requests to cease and desist exist (cf. Figures 9–11). Please note that the 2004
cycle is not included here because no copyright infringement or artist opposition was observed, and thus deemed
insignificant. The line graphs show each candidate’s age at the time of the election and the thin vertical line in each
graph divides the Republican and Democratic candidates.
26 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
TAB LE 9 Corresponding measures for Figure 13
Node count 69
Link count 388
Density measure 0.082694
Centrality measure for the white node 0.330802
Centrality measure for the middle class node 0.272059
Centrality measure for the Republican node 0.264706
Centrality measure for the Democrat node 0.235294
Centrality measure for the middle age node 0.235294
Centrality measure for the young voters node 0.205882
Centrality measure for the women node 0.198529
Centrality measure for the Christian node 0.191176
Centrality measure for the lower class node 0.176471
Centrality measure for the upper class node 0.125000
Centrality measure for the Hispanic node 0.117647
Centrality measure for the country node 0.110294
Centrality measure for the African American node 0.102941
Centrality measure for the rock node 0.080882
Centrality measure for the soundtrack node 0.080882
Centrality measure for the folk rock node 0.066176
Centrality measure for the pop node 0.051471
Centrality measure for the hip hop node 0.047118
Centrality measure for the alternative rock node 0.044118
Centrality measure for the hard rock node 0.044118
Centrality measure for the R&B node 0.036765
Centrality measure for the EDM node 0.029412
FIGURE 9 Copyright infringement line graph showing the number of oppositions/infringements per candidate (2008
Election Year Data) [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 27 of 36
FIGURE 10 Copyright infringement line graph showing the number of oppositions/infringements per candidate
(2012 Election Year Data) [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
FIGURE 11 Copyright infringement line graph showing the number of oppositions/infringements per candidate
(2016 Election Year Data) [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Figures 9–11 indicate that mostly Republican candidates have been opposed by artists for the use of their music in
the presidential campaigns from 2008 to 2016 with the exception of Barack Obama in 2008 with the song “Hold On
I’m Comin” by Sam Moore (1966). This is a rare occurrence of an artist asking a Democratic candidate to cease and
desist using a song, which Obama did immediately. Ironically, the performer Sam Moore did play at his inaugural ball,
though we cannot claim to know the exact reasons behind Mr. Moore’s decision to perform. However, there seems
to be a pattern emerging here between political party and claims of copyright infringement. Though there does not
seem to be a clear pattern showing a connection between the age of the candidates and artist opposition/copyright
infringement claims. Note that Huckabee was accused of infringing on the music he used in both of his campaigns, in
2008 and 2016. More recently, Donald Trump was met with overwhelming opposition from artists and their publishers
for 15 out of 18 songs he attempted to use in his campaign (cf. Table 4(a) and Figure 11). While Trump’s campaign did
secure proper blanket licenses, musicians can still object to their music being used because of the right of publicity and
28 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
FIGURE 12 Candidates and targeted voters SNA for 2016 [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
endorsement claims, as mentioned in the Introduction section (Diebel, 2016). However, this article must look at artist
opposition/infringement claims generally and not examine if musicians were wrongly portrayed as endorsing a candi-
date because of the “impossibility” of the plaintiff’s prevailing on a right of publicity claim as mentioned by Schacter.
3.4 Music genre selection and targeted voters
To assess if there is a connection between the targeted voters and the music genres selected by the presidential hope-
fuls, the authors turn again to the nonlinear model SNA methodology. Two separate SNA models havebeen created for
this phase of the analysis. The first one focuses solely on the connections between music usage by candidates, politi-
cal party affiliation, and targeted voters in the 2016 elections (cf. Figure 12). The second SNA model has a wider focus
encompassing data from 2004 to 2016 (cf. Figure 13).
Figure 12 provides a great deal of information with a node count of 45, 186 links, and the most cohesive model seen
thus far with a density measure of 0.093939 (cf. Table 8). This SNA shows a clearly defined class and status divide.
The TDC measures are very revealing in this model and the higher the TDC the more influential or of importance
to the candidates that node is. Indeed, Clinton (0.272727) and the Democrat (0.193182) nodes are clearly targeting
women (0.193182), young (0.193182), and African American voters (0.113636). Shown at proximity in the model to
the Democrats, but with a lesser degree of closeness, are middle class (0.193182), lower class (0.181818), Hispanic
(0.136364), and senior voters (0.090909). Contrastingly, the Republican candidates (0.227273) are exercising col-
lectively more influence in the model and are mostly targeting white (0.261369), Christian (0.181818), middle aged
(0.181818), conservative, and upper class voters (0.147727). Also, shown at proximity in the model to the Republi-
cans, but with a lesser degree of closeness, are middle class (0.193182), lower class (0.181818), and Hispanic voters
(0.136364).
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 29 of 36
FIGURE 13 Candidates music genre selection and target voters SNA (2004–2016) [Color figure can be viewed at
wileyonlinelibrary.com]
Figure 12 also informs us that the most influential and sought after targeted voters by Republican and Democratic
candidates are, in order of influence, white voters (0.261369), followed by middle class voters tied with young voters
and women voters (0.193182), and middle aged voters tied with lower class and Christian voters (0.181818). Showing
significantly less influence in the model are upper class voters (0.147727), Hispanic voters (0.136364), and African
American voters (0.113636).
Observing the proximity between targeted voters and music genre used by Clinton’s campaign, several additional
patterns emerged. Hip hop, R&B, and soul have been catered to African American voters, while Pop, EDM, indie rock,
pop rock, power pop, R&B, and pop rap were chosen to please Young voters. Salsa, pop, power pop, and pop rock were
curated toward women voters, while middle aged and middle class voters are seen closely associated with rock and
pop rock.
On the Republican side, the most sought after genres are alternative rock, classic rock, hard rock, and orchestral
pop, and are mostly aimed at white Christian middle-aged demographics voters. What does this mean for future music
selections in politics? Based on this information and what follows, the Democrats do a better job in their large variety of
genre selections to cater to their selected targeted groups/existing supporters. Republicans on the other hand, should
consider expanding their music selections to include more country music because of its overallpopularity and its partic-
ular popularity amongst lower class, white, Christians. This group were supporters of Trump in the 2016 campaign; but
potentially even more of their votes could have secured had their musical tastes been taken more into consideration.
Contrastingly, Figure 13 tells a different story as it considers aggregated data from 2004 to 2016 with additional
candidates and music genres. That model is more complex and cluttered than any models previously shown, with 69
nodes, 388 links, and the most cohesive density measure of 0.082694 (cf. Table 9). The consolidation of the data seen
here certainly changes some of the centrality measures and presents a different big picture of the interaction between
music genres, candidates, political parties and targeted voters.
Again, a class divide can be observed. A cluster of closed intertwined connections can be seen between Republi-
cans (0.264706) and white (0.330802), Christian (0.191176), upper (0.125000) and middle (0.272059) class, senior
30 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
FIGURE 14 Correlation between total number of songs and different music genres used by party nominees (2004–
2016) [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
and conservative voters. On the opposite side of the model, Democrats (0.235294) are close to white (0.330802), His-
panics (0.117647), African American (0.102941), women (0.198529), middle class (0.272059), liberal, young, and lower
class (0.176471) voters. Another significant change in this model is the prominence of country music (0.110294) as the
most popular and influential music genre. Country music is located at closest proximity to white Christian lower class
voters. Rock (0.080882) is the second most widely used music genre in this model with closest ties to white middle
aged and middle class voters, and is closer to the Republican node than to the Democratic one. Other rock subgenres
are also located at proximity to the same nodes as rock. Contrastingly, Democratic candidates display an impressive
diversity of music genres in the model as shown to the left and lower side of the model. It can be justified with the wide
diversity of targeted voters they seek to attract/rally such as using pop music to attract women voters or R&B and soul
to appeal to African American voters.
3.5 Music selection and poll results
Finally, the authors used the data available to assess evidence of a trend based on the number of songs used, number
of different music genres selected, average copyright year for the portfolio of music used, and past poll results (2004–
2012) (cf. Table 10).
An interesting pattern that emerged from this data is a strong correlation between the number of music genres
and the number of songs selected by candidates (cf. Figure 14). The stars in Figure 14 indicate the candidate who won
the popular vote in each given election year. Note that the star set next to Hillary Clinton’s name illustrates that she
won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. This figure shows that since 2004 the Democrats used consistently a
larger pool of songs and a wider diversity of music genres and a wider range of copyright years associated with their
campaigns. On the Republican side, the correlation shows that the candidates have been consistently choosing about
the same size portfolio of songs and music genres.
Another interesting pattern is shown in Figure 15. Based on the data shown in Table 10, this graph presents a clear
correlation between the average copyright year for the portfolio of the songs used by the candidates and the outcome
of the popular vote in the elections. Candidates who have won the popular vote, and in most instances secured their
presidency, since 2004 consistently had a more recent copyright year average for the songs used than the candidates
who used, on average, older songs.
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 31 of 36
TAB LE 10 U.S. Presidential election results 2004–2016
Election
year Candidate
Party
affiliation
Number of
songs
How many
genres?
AVG copyright
year Poll results Popular vote Election outcome
2004 George W. Bush Republican 1 1 2001 53.16% 50.70% Won
2004 John Kerry Democrat 2 1 1977 46.65% 48.30% Lost
2008 John McCain Republican 5 4 1984 32.16% 45.70% Lost
2008 Barack Obama Democrat 26 10 1993 67.84% 50.90% Won
2012 Mitt Romney Republican 5 4 1963 38.29% 47.20% Lost
2012 Barack Obama Democrat 41 10 1997 61.71% 51.10% Won
2016 Donald Trump Republican 18 7 1975 53.90% 46.99% Won
2016 Hillary Clinton Democrat 30 11 2004 42.40% 47.54% Lost
Source: Roper Center for Public Opinion Research 2016.
32 of 36 BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD
2001
1996 1997
2004
1977
1984
1963
1975
2004 2008 2012 2016
FIGURE 15 Correlation line graph of the average song copyright year and popular vote based on the data from
Table 10 [Color figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com]
While the authors present these patterns as interesting correlations, future campaigns would want to note, they
are not asserting causation. In the words of Gorzelany-Mostak, creator of the traxonthetrail.com site, “Eventhough I
don’t think it necessarily translates to the polls, I think it’s interesting to study ways in the 21st century people find of
participating” (Richards, 2016).
4SUMMARY OF RESULTS
Several revealing patterns were documented throughout this study of the use of popular music in presidential cam-
paigns spanning from 2004 to 2016. The authors have been able to combine a mixed methodology treating numeri-
cal and qualitative data and use complexity science, in the form of SNAs, to model networks showing the interaction
of popular music in political campaigns. It has been observed that younger presidential candidates, Republican and
Democrats alike, tend to select pop songs copyrighted more recently (21st century) whereas older candidates seem
to converge toward songs that appeal to an older white target voter demographic with songs dated from the 1960s to
early 1990s, and mostly rock music. Indeed, Democratic candidates have a more diversified as well as a larger selection
of music than their Republican counterparts. Most presidential candidates appear to be white males in their early to
mid-60s who are prominently Roman Catholics.United Methodists and Southern Baptists are the other two religious affil-
iations well represented amongst presidential hopefuls. Rock music is the most popular music genre selected, followed
closely by alternative rock,country music,andhard rock. It has been noted that it is no coincidence that those genres of
music appeal to white voters, particularly those who are middle aged and older. Secondary music genres are pop,soul,
rhythm and blues and hip-hop. The most common music genres shared by Republican and Democratic voters are rock
and country music but Republican candidates have used country music, patriotic songs, and heartland rock in addition
to hard rock, classic rock, and orchestral pop to target their mostly white Christian and middle aged voters. Rock, pop,
Latin pop, blues rock, indie pop, salsa, soul, and R&B are the genres mostly used to target African American and His-
panic voters. Also, EDM has been associated with the LGBT voters as well as with young voters. Lastly, women voters
are closely linked to pop and rock music.
Also of significance is that mostly Republican candidates have been accused of infringing on music and/or gener-
ating opposition from the artists whose music they chose to use in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential campaigns.
However, the findings suggest that there does not seem to be a clear pattern showing a connection between the age
of the presidential candidates and copyright infringement. Since 2004, the Democratic presidential candidates have
BLANKENSHIP AND RENARD 33 of 36
consistently used a larger pool of songs and a wider diversity of music genres associated with their campaigns. Con-
trastingly, on the Republican side, candidates have been consistently using about the same size portfolio of songs and
music genres. Candidates who have won the popular vote during their race to the presidency since 2004 have had a
more recent copyright year average for the songs they have used than the candidates who, on average, selected older
songs. And, for the past three election cycles, the Democratic candidates were the ones to formulate such music strat-
egy for their campaigns. However, we are seeing an increase in music usage on the Republican side.
5CONCLUSION AND THOUGHTS FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION
In conclusion, as Schoening and Kasper assert, the persuasive power of music is much too potent to decline in the
future. In fact the dramatic increase in popular song usage is apparent just in reviewing four presidential campaign
cycles within this study. They also believe the internet will continue to open new avenues for music usage in cam-
paigns, even by individuals uncontrolled by candidates. Furthermore, the innovative ways candidates will continue to
use music on their campaigns remains to be seen. Justin Patch describes the relationship between music and internet
generations in this way: “The internet generations are melding their own tastes for popular culture and malleable media
into a stipulation. Just as candidates must now publicly address their patriotism and faith, they must also proclaim their
affiliations with popular music and be eminently splicable with the sounds of forgettable pop tunes” (Patch, 2009).
The present study of pop songs on political platforms is particularly important because of the positive correlations
discovered between the higher quantity and variety of music used, lower average copyright year, and securing the
oval office and/or the popular vote (in the case of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign cycle). It reveals rock and
country music as the most prominent genres used within presidential campaigns, with additional genres used to target
specific categories of voters. Also, the authors documented that in nearly all cases the candidates being accused of
infringement and being faced with opposition from the artists are Republicans. Democratic candidates are shown to
dominate in terms of amount and variety of music used. The implications from this study underscore the importance
of popular music within political platforms and are capable of impacting key music strategy decisions in future
presidential campaigns.
Finally, the authors wish to address some points for further consideration. An area that could see further investi-
gating is how music is used in different media in a political campaign. It is beyond the purview of this study, but the
authors believe that it is an aspect of the use of music on political platforms worth investigating in a focused study. The
authors also feel that an in-depth research agenda dedicated to textual analysis of the words used in songs in political
campaigns would be a huge asset to the popular music literature.
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35 musicians who told politicians to stop using their songs
  • E Chao
Chao, E. (2015). 35 musicians who told politicians to stop using their songs. Retrieved from http://www. rollingstone.com/music/lists/stop-using-my-song-34-artists-who-fought-politicians-over-their-music-20150708