Upon listening to Sam Smith’s Grammy nominated hit single ‘Stay With Me’, You may have noticed a similarity to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ classic 1989 hit, ‘Won’t Back Down’. If so, you’re not the only one. After Smith’s single hit the charts in April of 2014, quite a few listeners took notice, as did Tom Petty’s Lawyers.
Since then, Sam Smith has agreed to pay songwriting royalties and Smith has even given songwriting credits to the Heartbreakers’ front man. Just in case you haven’t heard the borrowed melodies, You can watch the videos below and compare the similarities for yourself.
Consequence of Sound reported that instead of the knock down, drag out legal battle that so often makes headlines in rock n roll, Smith and Petty settled out of court in October of 2014. The two did not publicize the case and the not-so-gritty details emerged just this weekend.
The settlement is reported to include a 12.5 percent writing credit to both Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne of the rock group ELO, a longtime friend of Petty. Now the ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers) songwriting credit on Smith’s song lists Sam Smith, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Jimmy Napes as the principle songwriters.
A source close to the copyright case told The Sun, “When Sam’s track was originally released, it was clear to a lot of musicians that there were notable similarities between the tracks.” This refers to the nearly identical chorus and vocal melodies. To Sam’s credit, he didn’t even try to pretend innocence.
“After it was pointed out to Sam’s camp, they didn’t try to fight it and amicably dished out royalties. It wasn’t a deliberate thing, musicians are just inspired by other artists and Sam and his team were quick to hold up their hand when it was officially flagged.”
What makes this case unique is that when songwriters typically sue over copyright infringement, things tend to get quite ugly and settlements can take years. If Sam denied ripping off Tom Petty, things would’ve have gotten very ugly for the British pop star.
Despite his success, Sam Smith has received quite a bit of mud this year. It was reported by the Inquisitr that Sam has already ended his short-lived relationship with his boyfriend whom he met during a shoot for his video ‘Like I Can’. To heap on the insults, Smith received harsh criticism from Howard Stern over his songwriting abilities.
“I feel like that will be his only hit song. I’d like to get him in here and congratulate him on beating the odds.”
In the face of his bad luck streak, his career is still going strong. “Stay With Me” has sold nearly four million copies in 2014 and is a contender for Best Pop Performance and Record of the Year at the 2015 Grammy Awards.