If it doesn't Scrabble, it doesnt count.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011
by Matthew
filed under Stuff Other People Made and About Us
Comments: 11

I’m in the lab all day, I Scrabble all night
I got a Bedazzler so my outfit’s tight
When it comes to panache I can’t be beat
I got the most style from below 14th street”

- Beastie Boys, “Shazam!”

About a month ago a press release appeared on the HarperCollins website noting that some new terms “from the digital world” were going to be added to the official Scrabble dictionary. Those words included: wiki, fansite, webzine, darknet, and best of all… scrobble.

Not being a habitual reader of lexicographical press releases, I missed this at Last.fm HQ until Dan in our sales team mentioned it in a note he was sending out to some people we work with. This little factoid got me more excited than when Matt, our data griot, decided to livetweet his first listen to the recent Lady Gaga album. You see, it is my firm belief that Scrabble and the music tech world have a lot in common. Hear me out.

Scrabble, like a lot of music, has an annoyingly complicated copyright history: Hasbro owns the rights to the game in the US and Canada, Mattel owns the rights in the rest of the world, and Electronic Arts own the rights to digital versions. It’s amazing you don’t need to be a lawyer to play the game.

Which explains what happened in 2008 when a pair of brothers created an online version of Scrabble (Scrabulous) that worked really well on Facebook. More than half a million new fans of the game were born, but the first response from Scrabble’s corporate masters was to shut it down and sue the pants off the two brothers who made it, rather than figure out how to work with them to bring the game to more people. Which is pretty much how the music industry has worked for the last decade.

But it’s not just lawsuits that Scrabble and music have in common:

- Stephen Malkmus and the guys from Pavement were well known for their Scrabble games on tour. Courtney Love was famous for wanting to play against Stephen and he was equally famous for beating her in tile-to-tile combat.

- Elvis Costello likes to call himself the “rock and roll Scrabble champion.” And this Etsy shop will sell you a Scrabble tile pendant with Declan MacManus’s face on it so you can show your allegiance.

- The Beastie Boys are Scrabble junkies, and Ad-Rock even goes looking for competition on the road, dropping in at local Scrabble club events.

- There are dozens of songs with Scrabble in their titles on Last.fm, including an excellent one about a Scrabble date gone bad from Milky Wimpshake.

The only bad thing about ‘scrobble’ making it into Scrabble is that it’s pretty tough to pull off in a real game; it’s eight letters and you’ll need the only two Bs in the bag. But it’s worth it. ‘Scrobble’ has three 3-point letters in it and it’s worth 14 points on its own… much more if you can hit a multiple-word-score or squeeze it in to an existing cluster.

Our motto is the same in Scrabble as it is for music: Make every play count.

Scrabble cat, a sometimes visitor to Last.fm HQ


  1. Joe
    14 June, 12:05

    Chances are though that it’s such a long word, you’ll use up all your tiles and get a 50 point bonus. Boom.

    Joe – 14 June, 12:05
  2. Tecfan
    14 June, 12:06

    If there was a Facebook like button on this blog I would press it (because I don’t really have anything smart to say :P). (<— suggestion)

    Tecfan – 14 June, 12:06
  3. keik
    14 June, 12:15

    So when scrobbler for Sonyericsson Walkmans?

    keik – 14 June, 12:15
  4. Babs
    14 June, 14:43

    I love Scrabble. I’d have argued the case anyway. Good news!

    Babs – 14 June, 14:43
  5. HodgeStar
    14 June, 16:09

    ‘scrobble’ bears its cross over the L, made of ‘vinyl’ and ‘wiki’.

    HodgeStar – 14 June, 16:09
  6. xtraslky
    14 June, 18:05

    What about “words with friends” the smartphone version of scrabble? I’m relentless, playing everybody from new moms with time on their hands in the middle of the night to overeducated hipsters working in plays between production meetings and latte runs. Looking forward to using scrobble sometime, there is nothing like the rush from kicking someone’s ass on the board!!!

    xtraslky – 14 June, 18:05
  7. mac jordan
    15 June, 12:44

    I’d love to be able to scrobble from my iPhone, but the whole system is terminally broken, and you seem quite unable or willing to address it.

    mac jordan – 15 June, 12:44
  8. Alex Ferraté
    15 June, 14:14

    Hey LFM,

    i’m listening Úrsula (from Spain by Foehn Records) and First Aid Kit ( also Spain, Intromusica Producciones) but the ones in the Photos are teenagers from Estland and Sweden?

    here is the page of Úrsula (Sp) with the right Photos

    and for First Aid Kit (Sp)

    can you make different pages for every band? b.e. Ursula (Sp) (Ca)?


    Alex Ferraté – 15 June, 14:14
  9. Michael Coffey
    15 June, 14:18

    Hi, mac jordan.

    There are some known issues with iPod and iPhone scrobbling and we are looking at addressing them, but in the meantime please make sure you have done the things in this “iPod Scrobbling: How-to and Troubleshooting” forum post http://www.last.fm/forum/34905/_/506001


    Michael Coffey – 15 June, 14:18
  10. sara
    18 July, 08:11


    sara – 18 July, 08:11
  11. steve
    23 July, 03:45

    Not if you have the blank tiles.
    There is always a fight over what words to add. It is never ending.

    steve – 23 July, 03:45

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