The Beastie Boys made headlines earlier this week when “Sabotage” appeared in a Joe Biden campaign spot centering on the pandemic-related struggles of Michigan club owner Joe Malcoun. Now, it’s come to light that this individual is in fact a wealthy investor, and the Biden camp has pulled the advert following alleged harassment against Malcoun.
Though “Sabotage” played only during the final 20 or so seconds of the spot – following about 16 seconds of The Pixies’ “Where is My Mind?” – the placement proved noteworthy because the Beastie Boys had previously pledged not to license their music for advertising. Co-founder and bassist MCA, who passed away in 2012, wrote in his will that “in no event may my image or name or any music or any artistic property created by me be used for advertising purposes.”
Moreover, the Beastie Boys doubled down on the no-advertising commitment in a 2013 copyright infringement lawsuit, stating: “Long ago, we made a conscious decision not to permit our music and/or name to be used in product ads.” Consequently, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group faced some criticism after licensing their songs for a 2016 Star Trek Beyond trailer and a 2017 Destiny 2 advertisement.
Filmed in The Blind Pig, an Ann Arbor, Michigan, bar and live music venue, the Biden campaign spot in question describes Joe Malcoun simply as “Joe, Co-Owner, Blind Pig.” Malcoun criticizes the Trump administration’s COVID-19 response throughout the video, including by claiming at one point: “I don’t know how much longer we can survive not having any revenue.”
Now, it’s been revealed that The Blind Pig businessman is also a wealthy angel investor, having inherited a substantial sum from his wife’s grandfather years back. In an interview, Malcoun described the multimillion-dollar windfall as “almost like winning the lottery,” raising questions over whether Malcoun’s purported uncertainty surrounding the club’s future is disingenuous.
Malcoun, who voluntarily opted to close The Blind Pig’s patio area about one month ago, also owns a three-building tech hub in downtown Ann Arbor, per Fox News, and serves as CEO of customer relationship software company Nutshell.
The ad spot is currently marked “private” on YouTube, and a Biden campaign spokesperson told The New York Times that Malcoun “was doxxed, harassed and threatened” for his part in the video. Additionally, this official indicated that his team knew of Malcoun’s background before releasing the ad.
Malcoun isn’t responding to media requests, and his Twitter profile is now protected.