Stealing from Scritti Politti, or my ‘leaking’ angst

It’s been two weeks since I ‘leaked’ one of the new tracks from Scritti Politti on YouTube.

Scritti have a Best Of on the way later this month, and, thankfully, have recorded two new tracks to sweeten the deal. Prompted by an excited message on fansite Bibbly-o-Tek, I learned that Steve Wright played one of the new tracks, A Day Late And A Dollar Short, on BBC Radio 2. He cut it off 30 seconds before the end and he didn’t say what it was. Apart from that, only a handful of people had heard it.

I had the tools and the ten minutes needed to find the show on iPlayer, use Audio Hijack Pro to record it, editing out DJ banter etc, pop it into iMovie with an image of the artwork from the forthcoming best of, add some helpful text and bung it on YouTube with the label ‘rubbish quality radio rip’ for all the world to hear.

The video quickly shot to over 2,000 views and still climbing. An official version – almost identical to my cobbled together thing apart from higher quality audio (and now trailed with an ad for Lady Gaga – was posted a few days ago, but despite my linking prominently to it from mine, it’s only garnered about 400 views so far.

The stats are telling.

  • 82/18% Male/Female split overall with the vast majority of those (80%) in the 35-54 groups. But the gender split is pretty much 50:50 when we look at the admittedly small numbers of 13-17 and 18-24 year-olds.
  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, the US and UK are the biggest Scritti fans but there are healthy smatterings in Italy, Germany and France, Japan and Australia.
  • My video got significant injections of viewers from two popular blogs, So Hip It Hurts and Electronically Yours
  • It’s been shared on Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly even Rhodri Marsden, a sometimes member of the band, shared the link on Twitter.
  • And people watch/listen all the way through, which in itself is interesting.

So, Virgin, have I done you a disservice in impatiently getting the track out there? I notice that YouTube’s algorhythm’s didn’t spot that the track belonged to you (watch this fascinating TED video for more on how YouTube identify copyrighted material and what options are then available).

My rationale for being naughty? It’s a superb track. It’s probably not going to get much airplay. It’s unlikely that there will be a video or much high profile promotion. All those middle-aged blokes have probably all ordered Absolute: Best Of already.

But what about that 10% of 13-24 year olds? These kids didn’t exist when Scritti were a commercial prospect. They get their music from places like YouTube, Spotify or places on the fringes of legality.

Maybe the 200 odd of them that my video has reached will eventually result in a few realisations that here is an act that merits investigation, worth a download of the Best Of or back catalogue, a click on one of those interviews with Green in the right hand column alongside the video.

Virgin, I and others like me are doing your marketing for you. While I’m glad you haven’t shut me down, perhaps you should be doing it yourselves a little faster.

Absolute: A Collection Of Words And Music by Scritti Politti is out Feb 28th, 2011.



  1. LeBon

    It is a superb track. Or, as Vinny Vero puts it, “It is the SINGLE OF THE FUCKIN’ YEAR!”

    Most of the 13-24 year olds, however, were likely just a bit curious when they stumbled upon those entries from the popular blogs. Or is there any data that suggests some of the views were multiple or even a returning viewership?

    On top of your figures you can add a few listeners in Germany and some other parts of the world where EMI/Virgin are officially available through and

  2. eguinan

    Hi LeBon,

    The stats do seem to suggest that there are a significant number of repeat listens (maybe over 50%!) in all categories.

    YouTube stats though are limited in they can only provide demographics for people who are logged in when they watch/listen. But still, interesting!

    And I’m with you and Vinny – what a great track!

  3. Vinny Vero

    Thanks for mentioning my blog, “So Hip It Hurts”. I am one of those 35-44 year old males of which you speak. I appreciate the effort you put into getting the song online.

    Would you mind if I link to your blog from mine?

  4. Afront

    it’s great to hear some new songs from Scritti Politti, but believe me when I say: Spotify isn’t just for youngsters!

    Bear in mind though, the artist and label receive payment from plays on Spotify and from plays via official sources on YouTube. Your 2000+ views won’t generate a penny for Mr. Gartside et al, but the 400-odd from the official source will. So, just a thought, now that there’s an official version perhaps you should voluntarily take down yours?

    • eguinan

      Hello Afront,

      Spotify-user here too. I guess my mention of Spotify and age is in the context of expectation. I reckon the ‘kids’ have been happier with online/streaming/portable formats for some time whereas the Scritti-demographic might be more attached to the physical formats.

      There was some really interesting discussion a few months ago when the Beatles became available on iTunes: plenty of folk saying that everyone already owns the Beatles’ stuff in several formats, why would there be any interest in their being on iTunes? Of course, the Beatles tracks have gone on to sell several million downloads since then. Who is buying? I reckon it’s mostly the younger crowd, more used to cherry-picking and not overly bothered by needing to own the whole CD.

      I’m going to leave the video up too as the 2000+ views ultimately may generate a few pennies for Green – albeit indirectly. I was surprised that Virgin hadn’t/haven’t identified the upload as being their copyright. They could slap an ad on it, an iTunes link or just have it pulled. I’ve tried my best -the link to their version is prominent, and it promotes the album specifically.

      More than that though, it’s been linked to quite a bit through various blogs etc. It would be a shame to break the links. (It’s gone viral- in a teeny tiny way!). I reckon the potential exposure should counteract whatever small amounts might be lost. It’s a rich digital ecosystem and I reckon that fan-material like this, wobbly footage from gigs, drunken karaoke versions etc all contribute to gettin’, havin’ and holdin’ Scritti out there for others to find.

      All that aside, I’ve got the album on pre-order and I can’t wait to hear the thing in full, glorious detail!

      (Nice site btw!)

      • Afront

        Hey eguinan,

        Good points – and I know exactly what mean about older music fans and their reluctance to embrace new technologies: I’ve been banging on about Spotify in the Human League forum for a while now with mixed reception.

        I’d upped a video to YouTube ages ago that had a fair chunk of (un-remixed) Deee-Lite in it. It got pulled after a few months, but then surprisingly reappeared with an added “buy on itunes” link. Fair enough.

        Love the Scritti song btw – and ultimately blogs like this are doing their bit to spread the word, which can only be a good thing for the bands concerned.

  5. LeBon

    Thanks for your quick response, eguinan.

    You should not take down your ‘rubbish quality’ version, because the official YouTube version is not available in all countries. At least not in Germany where the dailymotion and myvideo versions are available, though.

  6. Pingback: Top 40 of 2011 : 10 – 6 « Daddy or Chips?

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