Sam Smith Acknowledges Similarities Between “Stay With Me ” and “Won’t Back Down”, Tom Petty Awarded Songwriting Royalties

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According to Consequence of Sound, Sam Smith’s hit song “Stay With Me” now has a new co-writer.  Well, two new co-writers – rockstar, Tom Petty and singer-composer, Jeff Lynne.

One source close to the case said, “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.”

Petty and Smith actually settled out of court, amicably, in October, but details only emerged this weekend. The settlement reportedly included a 12.5% writing credit to both Petty and singer-composer Jeff Lynne (of ELO fame).

A rep for Smith now acknowledges the similarities between “Stay With Me” and “I Won’t Back Down”, however, still contends its a “complete coincidence.”

“Recently the publishers for the song ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ written by Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, contacted the publishers for ‘Stay With Me,’ written by Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips, about similarities heard in the melodies of the choruses of the two compositions. Not previously familiar with the 1989 Petty/Lynne song, the writers of ‘Stay With Me’ listened to ‘I Won’t Back Down’ and acknowledged the similarity.

“Although the likeness was a complete coincidence, all involved came to an immediate and amicable agreement in which Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne are now credited as co-writers of ‘Stay With Me’ along with Sam Smith, James Napier and William Phillips.”

“Stay With Me” has sold nearly four million copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful singles of 2014. It’s also up for both Best Pop Performance and Record of the Year at the 2015 Grammy Awards.

How similar do they sound to you?

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