Whenever he thought about it, he felt terrible. And so, at last, he came to a fateful decision. He decided not to think about it. ~John-Roger and Peter McWilliams
Question #78863 posted on 08/26/2014 9:12 a.m.

Dearest 100 Hour Board,

It seems that Ke$ha has a lot of promo songs uploaded on YouTube.

Run Devil Run
I guess Girls' Generation bought the song and now it's theirs. Or something.

Red Lipstick
I guess this song was supposed to be on her Animal album, but it didn't make the cut.

So, anyways, who has access to these songs to upload them onto YouTube? How do they get there if they weren't on any of her albums? Does someone who worked for her leak them or something? And I'm not just talking about Ke$ha, I'm talking about any musician who's had their music uploaded onto YouTube without their knowledge, because the songs were not meant for the public.

Scarlet Flamingo


Dear Scarlet Flamingo,

It's unclear how leaks happen and often the artist or record label never finds out the whole story because the "leaker" tries to cover it up. Sometimes leaks are on purpose for publicity, but often they are undesired. CBS News has a good article on music leaks here, and notes, 

When leaks do happen, they can come through the press via review copies, for example, or even directly from recording studios. "It can be accidental, but once the file is available online, any individual with a copy and a cavalier attitude can anonymously post and make it available to download. Many file trading sites incentivize members to upload new and popular files in order to maintain their download privileges," said Mooney.

So press review copies, recording studios leaking the track, or even advanced copies given to friends or collaborators can be leaked and then rapidly spread from there. Sometimes if the leak is big enough the record company or artist doesn't even bother to try to remove the track, which is probably what happened in the cases you give above.