Tom Petty warned us all in 1989 that he “Won’t Back Down.” Twenty-six years later, he’s still standing his ground, especially toward artists that allegedly cop his sound.
Word came out over the weekend that Petty was awarded 12.5% songwriting credit and royalties for UK crooner Sam Smith’s breakout single “Stay With Me.” Petty’s camp alleged that the song, which has sold nearly four million copies worldwide and is nominated for a pair of 2015 Grammys, sounds a bit too close to Petty’s 1989 hit “Won’t Back Down.”
The settlement reportedly included a 12.5% writing credit to both Petty and singer-composer Jeff Lynne (of ELO fame). The song’s credit on ASCAP — that’s the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers — now lists Smith, Petty, Lynne, and Jimmy Napes as the chief songwriters.
Said one source close to the case, “When Sam’s track was originally released, it was clear to a lot of musicians that there were notable similarities between the tracks,” referring specifically to melodies of the respective choruses. “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.”
Meanwhile, Smith is up for six total 2015 Grammys , including New Artist, and Record Of The Year, and will perform live. The Grammys go down Feb. 8 in Los Angeles, and will be broadcast by CBS.