The music industry is caught up with streaming and playlists and with good reasons, but what about radio? How does the future look for the radio format and is it still relevant?
In 2010, I started a management company with very limited resources and know-how about the music industry. I had previously been DJ’ing at the local nightclub, but soon I realized that I rather wanted to make the actual events. From here I went into tour management and helping out at my brothers management agency.
Back in 2010, my first company was established and I signed a couple of artists on one-page contracts with limited knowledge of how to build artist careers.
In 2014, I was having a discussion with other professionals about how come you couldn’t really control, track or compare the artists revenue of radio money whether it was via your CMO or PRO. I soon learned, that by using this data you can actually benefit a great deal in terms of marketing purposes whether it’s for booking, radio promotion or social media.
While I was investigating the market, I found a Norwegian IT company, which had developed an algorithm for audio recognition. With this algorithm you can upload any mp3 file (the audio fingerprint), and whenever a radio station is playing it, a match is made. The company was Bach Technology – a spinoff company out of the famous IT university at Fraunhofer Institute in Ilmenau, Germany. The Founders of the company had also developed the Mp3 file back in 1997 together with Aarhus Library in Denmark.
I suggested to the CEO of Bach Technology that I was thinking of building a product on top of his algorithm that should make it possible for everyone to track any song on radio at any time. The idea was pretty simple, but the goal was that everyone should be able to benefit from this kind of data. This would only be possible if everyone had the option to access the data. Most people in the music industry, e.g. musicians and managers, spend a lot of time and money on everything from instruments and production to Sound cloud, Soundcharts and social media – why wouldn’t you want to know how and where your newest release is performing?
One would say “Well I’m used to hire a radio promoter”. Sure, and if you can afford one you should! But even so – he is not tracking your airplays. He is in many cases relying on the feedback from the radios playlists or strong personal relations.
Why wouldn’t you as an upcoming artist want to know exactly where you should make a promotional effort.
What if you are being played on a specific radio in another country? Or what if you are in rotation in a country or city you otherwise would not know of, why wouldn’t you want to know?
One would say “well, I’m signed to a big record label and they are already doing that”. Then again I must say no. Some labels do track their releases, but most of them use fairly expensive solutions with lots of data on a very limited amount of radio stations, and some only monitor in specific areas.
From my perspective, the key in radio monitoring is to cover as many stations as possible. Ideally all stations. Not only the large ones or the ones with an estimated highest amount of listeners.
As the service I want to create should be usable for everyone it has to cover as many stations as possible, even school, college and local stations, and especially all the genre based stations. This way you can improve the chances that everyone finds every single airplay.
I made an agreement with the CEO and founder of Bach Technologies about the idea, and I started working for them as a sales agent to get to know as much as possible about the company.
Fast forward 3 years – its December 21st 2016, and I just received pre-seed investment to the company WARM – the World Airplay Radio Monitor. The goal for WARM is to collect as much data as possible and distribute it to the costumer. Our first product is an MVP which launched April 17th 2017. We are currently working on new features and implementations.
I know that we live in a streaming based world. However, streaming is not everything. The radio is curated by real people which you can contact and connect with. These people, the radio hosts, djs, and promoters are in most cases people who love music and who love to discover and find new music. And whether their radio show has 5000 or 500.000 listeners it is people who get exposed directly to your music.
The radio star is still alive and kicking. I believe that radio airplay reporting has been neglected for way to long, and with a market that only caters for the large record labels and collections societies. Combined with a huge lack of coverage, transparency and being able to track revenue streams, it is simply not to early that we start making this available to everyone, especially the ones who needs it the most – the long tail.
/Jesper Skibsby, CEO & founder of WARM