WARM is the debut radio monitoring service to operate on a large-scale. Based in Denmark, the company focuses on individuals who work in the music industry, WARM was founded by Jesper Skibsby, who has many years of experience in both the music industry and business in general. He helped establish We Make Noise, Fandango Music Management, and Kassiopeia Kollektive, and he has also worked in artist management.

WARM is essentially a radio tracking service that operates in real-time (there is also an app). It enables labels, managers, and artists themselves to gauge how much their music is played which, in turn, helps decipher important business strategies, printing, marketing, royalties, and more. A report on Twitter from June 8 showed some of those stats, noting that Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart" is still hitting more than 2,000 radio plays every month in Germany alone.

WARM is an acronym for “World Airplay Radio Monitor” and it initially launched in April of 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark. It’s founder, Jesper Skibsby, envisions the future of the music industry as being more democratic and he has made rates extremely affordable, starting at only €5 (about $6) per song.

Jesper recently discussed WARM and more in an exclusive interview.

Music, IT, and ideas

Meagan Meehan (MM): Why did you decide to start working in the music industry and what kind of music do you enjoy most?

Jesper Skibsby (JS): I have always had a passion for music, I started playing the drums when I was nine, and I toured with my brother Morten (who is a DJ) from the age of fourteen. I started making techno events when I was twenty and eventually owned a nightclub at twenty-three. From here, I pivoted to the music industry and began working with tour management and artist booking. Eventually, I launched a couple of record labels, an artist & label service, and a management company.

I enjoy a variety of music. I listen to everything from Jazz and Bossa Nova to Techno and Acid. I enjoy discovering new music. I often use a platform called “Radio Garden”- it’s showing all radio stations in the world, interactively on a globe and you can then point at a radio station and listen directly to the live stream. It’s an amazing way to discover different music from different parts of the world.

MM: You're also very savvy with IT, so did that interest arise before or after you discovered your love of music?

JS: It all started with the music. Actually, I don't see myself as particularly tech savvy, but I’m in this fantastic situation where I can think and act like an architect, as I have great developers around me who can create and visualize my ideas.

MM: You have stated that you want the music industry to become more democratic, so what exactly do you mean by that?

JS: Right now, we have a music industry that has been built on “reporting”. The Rights organizations report to each other across boarders, and controlling is only something they do on behalf of the very big hits. So here we have a real problem where the organizations primarily focus on the biggest hits and not the majority of members, which is straight up discrimination.

When you hire a radio promoter, you have to await their reports to you, which in many cases are based on personal relations with the radio hosts/dj’s or playlist monitoring via scraping. It would make A LOT of sense that you can actually control the work of the promoter, especially when you most likely already paid a lot of money to hire him. Also, radio promoters often work in specific territories/countries, but perhaps your music is being played in other countries where you are not actively targeting. This is so key.

Many people have the idea that you already know what is going on with your music, as you can see it in a report. The fact is that Fed-Ex and all the major labels all use services that do not cover true global radio, neither do the rights organizations or the PR agencies and promoters. You simply cannot necessarily rely on their data, so YOU need to take control of your own data, which is where audio fingerprint recognition is the key.

MM: What gave you the idea for WARM and how long did it take to develop?

JS: The idea came from personal frustration, as I learned from other sources that one of my Danish bands had a lot of radio plays in Poland. I contacted the radio station and got more music in rotation, did a mixtape, interview and got connected to Polish music blogs. After this experience, I just wanted to find a service that could notify me every time a radio station anywhere in the world was playing our music. As I did not find anything accessible and affordable to the “long tail” of the music industry, the idea was born.

The idea and business plan has been underway since 2013, but in December 2016 we raised our first investment. Three months later the beta version was up and two months later our MVP version was up. And now WARM has been up and running for little over a year.

Musical artists, reception, and the future

MM: How could you afford to let people sign up for such low fees, and do you think that helped attract musical artists?

JS: As the vision behind WARM is to make data accessible to all artists and bands, it had to be at affordable prices, otherwise, it’s still only the big companies and organizations that can afford it. Our collaboration with German tech company Bach Technology lets us explore many different ideas around handling data and new revenue streams. Atm, we are very much focused on the product and the users, so we have tried to make the price secondary so that this is not something we have to discuss with our users. I have only heard two people say they felt the pricing was too expensive during the last two years. I can live with that.

MM: So far, what has reception to WARM been like?

JS: The reception has been overwhelmingly positive. The only ones who are not really active around using this technology and transparency are Rights organizations, which makes sense as they basically live and exist from in-transparent structures. Our current users primarily range from artists/bands, managers, indie labels and radio promoters who want to be in control and know what is really happening with their music. I have been attending a lot of conferences this last year, where I have had the chance to talk with many different people in the music industry. When I talk about what WARM is, and our vision - the response and support is tremendously positive. I really think we have tapped into something unique and disruptive in the music industry. One of our big challenges is to educate people in understanding that new and intelligent services for the Indies do exist, and something like WARM is basically the only affordable solution to track radio plays on true global radio, individually song by song.

MM: What are your biggest hopes for the future of WARM?

JS: My biggest hopes are that all the rights holders and musicians eventually will be able to see every time they are being cheated or if something is not correct. Everyone should be able to easily audit their revenues, we are in 2018, this is not at all impossible. On the other hand, we need the rights organizations to be challenged and it has to come from their members.

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