Posted on January 02, 2019
# Please introduce the person sitting next to you.
Ratdo: this is Jang Yulbum, who has been a concert planner for years. He joined [Ratdo's Band Music(RBM)] show 4 months ago, he is someone I feel I can trust completely. There are 4 of us at RBM now. I've been struggling alone for such a long time now, I'm so relieved to have people I can count on to help me.
Yulbum: This is RBM's director Ratdo. There have been lots of changes since we changed our system and added the second director. He has been admired as a DJ, but now he's quit DJing and is more focused on the management side of things. So, now really in charge of making the RBM brand grow and get stronger.
# Why is it name Ratdo's Band Music? Is it because you are a Radwimps fan?
Ratdo: Yes. You're right. It's been about 3 years since I launched the RBM platform. I started it as a hobby back in 2010. At that time my favorite band was Radwimps, so my nickname naturally became 'Ratdo'. Name is not important really, the name just kind of stuck and we have been using it since we started out. Also, I had been thinking about the music I'd like to play on the radio, and my favorite genre is band music. On that account , I thought attaching 'Band Music' to the name would well represent the show’s personality.
# Can you introduce Ratdo's Band Music to those who don't know about the program well?
Ratdo: RBM is a radio service where musicians get to be the broadcasting DJs and communicate with the listeners through a mobile application.
# Tell us how RBM first started.
Ratdo: I had lived in Changwon, Kyungsang-namdo until high school period. I've always loved music, but pop music somehow felt too ‘typical’ for me. So I started listening to the radio searching for something new. Then I came across Lee Hanchul's broadcasting program where he introduces indie music. I came to know the artist Moonlight Fairy Grand Slam Homerun for the first time thanks to him. I think I was 14 years old. I didn't know what 'indie music' was, but ever since then I have been digging around looking for that kind of music.
The problem however, was that I didn't have anyone to share my taste of music with. The concept of ‘indie music’ was not well known in Korea, and there were no popular social media channels back then. In my hometown, people barely even know the word ‘indie’. I felt lonely. So, as soon as I finished my Korean SAT exams, I started broadcasting to play my favorite songs to everyone and find someone like me.
# Did you always plan to turn it into a proper radio program like it is now, or were you just doing it for fun?
Ratdo: I didn’t plan it at all. Even now I don’t really know where we’re heading. How could I plan anything proper back then? It was just a hobby, which I tried so hard to do right. In fact, not many people really listened to it, and I didn’t get paid at all, but it was what I wanted to do. No one told me to do it, and still haven’t skipped a day. Every night at 10PM. Even if I am hanging out with friends, I make sure I am home before 10pm, like Cinderella. That’s why I have now started to try and build it into a business.
# Then, when did you first decide to take the platform more seriously?
Ratdo: In 2015, I was going to school after finishing the army period. I’ve always been quite good at studying, and I always thought that’s the most important thing to me. I chose my major as my parents and teachers told me, to get a good profession. However in third grade, I started to feel nervous about following other people’s opinions. I thought if I had studied one more year and gotten a job, I would have always been regretting that. So I decided to try something I had always wanted to do, thinking ‘If this doesn’t work out well, then I’ll just live like everyone else.’ That was around March, 2015. I prepared for the program from April, and launched it in December 2015.
# In RBM, musicians be the DJs themselves and play music. Was it the original format you designed?
Ratdo: Yeap. At first, I did it all by myself. But as I made it as a new platform, I thought I should do it properly. So I contacted musicians. The platform wasn’t even launched, and RBM didn’t have any name value, but musicians like Kim Myungjae, Shin Seung-eun and Dae Hyun kindly accepted my offer and helped me out. They were the great stepping stones of the program. We grew thanks to them.
# Who helped you contact those musicians?
Ratdo: I’m not a big fan of concerts. I just like listening to music at home in comfort. And that’s kind of why I made this channel. So at first, I wasn’t close with any musicians at all. It was not like asking friends to help me out. It was all new to me.
# What do you consider the most when choosing DJs?
Ratdo: RBM is sort of like a select shop. So, the most important thing is that the musician plays my kind of music. I usually choose those who I like to listen to.
# Recently the second director was inaugurated to the show. What was the main reason for adding someone else, and what do you expect to come from it?
Yulbum: In the past, the goal was to make the radio as the select shop of people who have similar taste with Ratdo. But I think that goal has already been accomplished. The goal for now, is to maintain this and make it smoother. It’s been the same for too long with the same people. We need to expand our service to encourage new people who are interested in our kind of music to get onboard. In order to do that, we had to divide the work between the new team and the director.
# Your main work for now is the radio station. What else are you doing now?
Ratdo: We are renewing our application and homepage. We said it’s a platform, but as it is now, it is not really good enough to be considered a proper platform. So we currently renewing our system so that we can make it as a working company and hopefully earn money from it too. We are throwing the launching event on January 12th 2019, and we will talk about what we’re going to do officially at the event.
# The media is changing so fast. Especially, video streaming platform such as Youtube or Twitch is growing and there are new form of profit systems out of them. Are you thinking of changing to or adding a new type of platform?
Ratdo: Not right now. However, we are aware of the benefits of having video in the business too. Personally we don’t think radio is lower than video in rank. It’s just that there are some kind of contents that are ideal when expressed as a radio content. So we don’t really have urge to start making video contents just yet. We just believe there will be always someone who likes what we do.
# All around the world, there are lots of different radio programs. Do you have any particular radio show that you’re listening to?
Ratdo: I think not. When I was young, I used to listen to programs like Ghost Nation. It’s a different story, but I think there has to be lots of changes in current radio programs. As a legacy media, this field hasn’t changed much for the last decades while TV tends to be much better at following new trends. Radio is the same old stories followed by music and guest talks. We tend not to stay in same formats. Our concept focuses more on new media or personal broadcasting.
# You’ve been doing this for 4 years now. What’s your motivation?
Ratdo: I’ve always thought that I’m not a very persistent kind of person. I’ve always been easily distracted. The reason I did not stop working on this is simply because I love doing it so much. When I first started RBM, I didn’t intend to earn money from it. It was more like a thing I wasted my money on. Still, I do this because, I not only indie music but I love broadcasting as well.our music as a part of pop culture, and actually it is. It is not sophisticated.
# How can you evaluate your program so far?
Ratdo: It may sound arrogant, but I am pretty content with it at the moment. I never expected this to be so organized, and now it became the platform where I can spend my time with my favorite musicians. I’m content because I didn’t expect much from it at the start, and also from a business point of view we are growing in the right direction too, although it’s not as fast as I’d like.
# These days, Korean pop music and hip hop music as well is getting popular all around the world, but band music itself seems to be having a hard time. As someone who loves Korean band music and someone who has been in the field a long time. What do you think the future holds for bands in Korea?
Yulbum: People don’t use the words ‘indie’ or ‘band music’ so much any more. Our name itself contains the phrase ‘Band Music’ in it, but we play various genres of music on our shows. I think we will probably remove that phrase at some point. There are lots of obstacles in the way of bands these days, including gentrification these days. Another example of a problem facing bands is that even if you send the music to the broadcasting stations, the condition of the broadcasting companies are strict and so it it is often impossible to broadcast the music from bands.
But even if the term ‘band music’ is disappearing, the bands themselves are not, so I think they will always get coverage on other mediums on the internet such as Social Networks or places like YouTube. The band themselves tend to avoid smaller concerts more and more because of money issues and not enough demand. They prefer to playing on the auditions programs as a quick route to becoming famous and playing the bigger venues.
Until last year, I often Open Mics, but it seems like they have all gone now. Artists are looking more to Instagram and Youtube to start personal broadcasting. This is something we are doing too. In the past, we would go and see someone play and if liked it, we would and ask them to come in and be a DJ for our show. Now we look for the musicians online first and then ask them to come in and broadcast for us. In short, band music is dying.
Ratdo: Hey, people will hate us if we say that. I don’t think band music will die. This kind of thing is not just a problem for bands and the music industry. Everything is going online nowadays. The news is pretty much all online, movies go to to platforms like Netflix. It’s just the way of the times. Offline medias is not so much of a thing any more. If we define band music as rock music, it’s not popular for now, but it’s not disappearing either. They say there are no more good bands, but there’s acts like Se So Neon and Samui who are doing really well, and good bands keep coming out. So, this genre is not mainstream, but it won’t die, cause there will always be good bands.
# Which band are you listening to these days?
Ratdo: I loved Samui’s new album. Actually I’m not a big fan of rock music, I like folk and electronic more. Still, Samui’s music intrigued me.
Yulbum: I like Voyeur these days. They’re not exactly a rookie band, but I would say they are fairly new on the scene. I would say there are much less new bands appearing on the scene these days, but then, I only see stuff from people I follow on social network platforms. Among the new stuff I have seen, my favorite was Voyeur.
# What was the most popular segment or episode of your show and what happened then?
Ratdo: RBM is under less time or space restraints. So we broadcast in various location. I once even broadcasted in my car while driving. The listeners could even listen to the sound of engine and raindrops, it was like we were driving together. Also, I once did the show with the DJ as we were driving home together.
# Have there been any horror stories?
Ratdo: One of our one day DJs Kang Baek-ho didn’t turn off his mic when he finished his show. It could have been terrible, but thankfully he just cooked some food and watched a movie. That’s only happened once.
# I hear a lot of Japanese music on the radio. Are you a fan of Japanese music?
Ratdo: Yes I am. I don’t think Japanese music is better than Korean music, but it’s true that they have more various cultural infrastructures out there. Also there are more people, so it’s a bigger market. Oricon is the second biggest market in the world wide music industry. It’s natural that they have more historic musicians. Therefore I listened to Japanese music a lot when I was in highschool.
Yulbum: They’re also good at archiving videos. Korean music is also good, but usually all we can find is videos that fans recorded at concerts. Even if they’re so good at playing, it’s hard to find good quality videos. In Japan, it’s not. They have so many quality videos.
# What kind of content would you like to offer to listeners? What do you want them to feel while listening to your shows?
Yulbum: I think the basic content power comes from the music. But I would say broadcasting should be our main content. We hope that people get enjoyment from the show, just by listening to us talking, not just because of good music selection. We want our shows to be listener-friendly. Selecting musicians as our DJs, and focusing our theme on music are our means to get closer to the listeners.
Ratdo: I agree. The broadcast itself should be just as good as the musical content we put out. If it isn’t then there is no point and the whole thing would be meaningless. I want our shows to inspire people. Based on that thought, I aspire to introduce people to music that I like and is relatively unknown.
# Do you have any last words?
Yulbum: Please take a listen to RBM, and if you don’t find it interesting enough, come and help us improve it. We try very hard to communicate with listeners. We try hard to make the program fun by default, but the feedback of listeners is really important to help us move forward. We are planning our big renewal in January as well, hopefully that will connect more to the listeners. Get involved with us and help us make RBM even more enjoyable next year.
Ratdo: There would be many people among those who are reading this article that have heard of our name, but not listened to it before. There are 18 segments on our radio. All the segments and DJs are different, and they’ve got their own styles. I’m sure there will be something there that you like. So, If you’re a indie music fan or if you like listening to the radio, please come and check us out.
And lastly, we are throwing the ‘RBM 2.0 Launching Party’ on the 12th January. There will be many amazing artists who are related to RBM there as well as the DJs. So, please come to enjoy the live shows and support the new start of RBM!
RBM 2.0 Launching Party
Date : 1.12 (Sat) 3:30PM
Venue : Yeonhee Art Theater
Ticket : advance 10,000won / at door 10,000won
Ticket in advance : Naver
To find out more about the RDBM, follow the links below:
Interview : Minjip Kim, Seojin Park
English Translation : Songhee Roh
Edited by : Patrick Connor