When I initially decided to research how music is used in presidential campaigns, I thought that my analysis would primarily employ a historical and statistical lens. I planned on examining how music’s role transformed throughout American electoral history from the early days of political jingles to contemporary televised advertisements. I also intended to analyze the quantitative results drawn from studies designed to investigate the influence that music has on voters. While both historical and statistical research is included in my paper, I was surprised to find that the conflict between free speech and copyright law truly dominates modern-day discourse concerning music and presidential campaigns. Already dozens of news articles have come out detailing instances in which 2012 GOP presidential hopefuls utilize a song at a convention or rally and are then reprimanded by the song’s owner for doing so.
(You can hear the beginning of Tom Petty’s American Girl that Michele Bachmann used at the close of her announcement speech for president. Petty later issued the Bachmann campaign a cease and desist letter).
The clash between free speech and copyright law represents a very heated development in the academic study of music and presidential campaigns, and I am excited to see how this ideological conflict plays out throughout the 2012 election season.