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Industry Insider: Ray Smith Of Be At TV Talks VR and Video in Today's Social Media Era

BE-AT.TV is the premiere platform for live dance videos that bring the show to your home.
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Be-At.TV is the world’s number one streaming platform for dance music and bringing into the homes of people all across the world. They've been the name behind bringing you some of today's best performances, like the recent Pete Tong Orchestra events. 

With all of that in mind, we sat down with the director of the platform Ray Smith to learn more about surviving the music industry, the future of entertainment in electronic music, and more! 

How did you start your career in the electronic music business?

My career in electronic music began with BE-AT.TV. I have always been a huge fan of electronic music and loved everything about the events. My sister went to University in Michigan and I spent a lot of my childhood summers in Detroit so I go the bug at a very early age. After I finished college, I was living in San Francisco working in a completely different world, but my passion for the music was always there.

I finally visited Europe for the first time when I was 21 and saw all these great parties happening. Then I went to Ibiza and my head exploded. The most incredible thing for me was all of these amazing parties were happening and almost no one I knew in the U.S. had any idea that these types of events existed. The idea was to create a platform that would allow people like me to experience these events without having to fly half way around the world. So with only an idea and delusions of grandeur, I quit my job, moved to Europe and went on to start BE-AT.TV.

What is the best part of the business?

Well if you’ve been to a truly great experience, it could be a festival, a play, a sporting event, whatever, but after going to an amazing event, that experience never really leaves you. Something about great parties with great music always sits with me and I find myself reliving the sights and sounds in my head over and over.

Before BE-AT.TV, these amazing parties and festivals would happen and there was really no way to revisit them. There was certainly no way to hear the soundtrack again. Dance music is constantly evolving and if you haven’t captured an electronic music session, you can never really get it back in the same way. Going back and being able to relive sets and listen to the great music from my best nights out was another huge reason why I thought people wanted something like BE-AT.TV

I guess the best part is, we are in the fun business and get to make people happy. We allow people to access events which they wouldn’t be able to otherwise and to relive their favourite musical moments in life which is hugely rewarding.

What are the biggest challenges?

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One of the biggest challenges is that there are so many amazing things happening all around the world and logistically getting teams in place to capture the worlds best events is a nightmare. The world is big! There are so many different places and scenes happening across the globe. We have offices in London, Berlin, NYC, Amsterdam and Ibiza but that still isn’t enough to capture everything that we would like to and that the electronic music community wants to see. In order to ensure a certain level of quality, we send our own teams to all these events and that is a big job.

What career advice would you recommend to someone just starting off?

In the electronic music industry there are so many different elements – DJ, Producer, Promoter, streamer, label, etc.. I think the best advice I can give is work out where you would like to be in three years time. Although there is not as much money in this business as there can be in others, I recommend getting involved with a company you can see yourself rising through the ranks in; offer your services for free. If you want to be a DJ, I would recommend going to work in an artist management company or go work at an events company. Then you get to meet all those people that can help you with your career. If you want to be a producer, go and work at a label. Email them and say ‘hey, can I sit in with a studio session?’ It’s amazing how much you can learn if you are willing to do a job part time and do it for free. I would argue that any company out there would be willing for you to just come in and learn – be a fly on the wall. If you are good and want it badly enough, those internships turn into jobs.

As the EDM industry continues to grow, what do you think the secrets to longevity in this business will be?

Always trust your gut. People that were trying to make a quick buck a few years ago in this industry are no longer here. In the early days of BE-AT.TV, we were streaming completely different stuff to what we are doing now. The first event we ever did was Swedish House Mafia and the second was Deadmau5. Those guys were cool as hell back then and we as a company were bringing them to the world. We have always tried to stay cutting edge and show what is happening on the dance floor, however from a business perspective – it probably would have made sense to continue doing big name EDM acts since 2011. We would have made a lot more money but it wasn’t the music or events that anyone within the company was listening to so we tried to stay true to our own personal tastes. It’s kept us in business and if we had gone in a different direction, I don’t know if we would still be here today.

What cities/regions do you think electronic dance music is best thriving?

We have offices in the cool hotspots in Europe of course. But right now it is unbelievable what is happening in the US. In Brooklyn, these warehouse parties that are popping up are incredible. I was born in the US so for me to see how much electronic music has grown in the states is crazy. I saw Sasha and John Digweed in the early days and the crowds that were attracted, everyone thought we were freaks! So now to see it so popular amongst the jet setting New Yorkers is great! Normal people are going out and listening to these new sounds at the weekend which is a crazy contrast to what was happening before. The U.S. right now is blowing up. The scene in Mexico is also very strong with a load of parties and festivals now popping up in Mexico City.

If you weren’t in the music biz, what would you be doing?

If I wanted to be doing something else I would probably be doing it. For me, right now, it is the best job in the world. I think transporting people to different experiences in different parts of the world is something that we are seeing more and more across a number of different businesses.

We are in the feel-good business. We get some great feedback and people are really grateful for the experiences that we bring to them that they couldn’t get otherwise. When someone is having a rough day, which we all do – when you can see the impact you have on other people’s lives its extremely fulfilling. I used to listen to the Essential Mix every week and for those two hours that Pete (Tong) put on the radio was amazing because you forget your troubles. Twenty years later, we can do the Essential Mix every week, PLUS it’s got video, PLUS it’s not just in the U.K. PLUS it’s different DJs, PLUS it’s live from festivals and clubs; plus it’s viewed all around the world. I feel like we are the modern-day extension of that kind of show. 

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