Artistically minded and musically rich, online music station Radiooooo is a charming alternative to the corporate Spotifys of this world. Monocle visits its studios to discover how the creators get their groove on.
Conceived by an unassuming group of French music lovers, Radiooooo is a simple idea gracefully realised. On 1 October 2014, Benjamin Moreau and some close friends (Noemi Ferst, Alex Pan, Karl Planck, Victor Kiswell, Raphaël Hamburger and Anne Claire Troubat), connoisseurs of fine international music, launched an online radio station reminiscent of an old jukebox or a musical time machine. Radiooooo gives you the chance to listen to songs from any country, from 1900 to the most recent releases.
“Here we have France Gall and we were curious to discover who was the France Gall of Bali or the Galapagos Islands,” says Moreau, Radiooooo’s president. But why stop there? After eight years of researching unknown songs for their playlists for Le Baron (a famous Parisian nightclub), the team realised they had rare treasures to share and Radiooooo seemed the best way to present their finds.
The very first step on the road to Radiooooo was filing the songs by country and period. “Depending on the regions, we noticed we had a lot of gaps,” Moreau says. “So, for example, we’ve asked DJs specialising in African music to supply us with incredible Cameroonian disco. Same for the Vietnamese rock of the 1960s. It’s amazing.” To explore even further, they also asked parents and grandparents of friends to share their musical culture.
The trickiest part to set up was the technicalities. From the start the deals were very complicated; with so many songs from across the world playing at any one time there were diffuse rights to secure. “Adding the rights for the Sacem [authors’ licensing and collecting society] around the world, the cost became insane,” says Moreau. It took months to negotiate but finally they got a good deal. Being counted as an online radio station was the trick; far better than being a “research music platform” like Spotify. Radiooooo’s promotional material stands out as much as the idea for the station itself. Art directors Ferst and Moreau (who are also artists represented by Parisian gallerist Emmanuel Perrotin) take care of all the graphics and animation for the station’s website and the studio in the 2nd arrondissement looks like a nursery. On the day we visit, the duo are having fun drawing maps of the world with coloured pencils, ink stains and aquarelles, and have fashioned hilarious feutrine puppets called Françoise and Jean Pierre to be Radiooooo’s mascots.
For now the service is free but a subscription model and app are in the offing. Radiooooo’s wonky motto is “Pleasure to offer, joy to receive, everyone is welcome to send their song” and more than 150 tracks were sent to the station on its first day. Meanwhile a France Gall equivalent has been discovered somewhere in 1970s Sweden. She’s called Lill-Babs. Now where else would you discover that?