The Last Songwriter Depicts Fate of Composers in the Digital Age

Documentary Debuts and Takes Honor at Nashville Film Festival

The Last Songwriter, a documentary that made its debut last week at the Nashville Film Festival, does not present quite as dire a picture as its title suggests. It does, however, chronicle many of the realities of songwriters working in the digital age.

Both the debut and the second showing, which took place the following day, drew capacity crowds. And, at the festival’s end, the film copped the Audience Award Winner prize.

Directed by Mark Barger Elliott, the 52-minute film opens with Garth Brooks declaring that songwriting is “the least rewarded but most important step in music.” Rewards are so low, the film argues, because songwriters are paid such low royalty rates, particularly by digital streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, and are legally prohibited from bargaining for higher rates.

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