It’s not always easy to recognise something innovative the first time you come across it.
That which differs from the norm often seems a little ludicrous, simply because it challenges the status quo and does not readily fit into an accepted scheme of things. Therefore, it is very easy to dismiss a new idea or an original concept, only to be proved very, very wrong.
The reason I am currently dining out on humble pie is because of a new website called B@TV (Be At TV), a site doing for club nights, festivals and DJs what MySpace has done for bands and songwriters.
My initial thought when I saw the site’s homepage, which features videos of club nights going across some of the most happening places such as Café Mambo and Pacha was: ‘who’s going to watch this?’
I had the mental image of one of their users sat at a workstation, glow stick in hand, whistle in mouth, having the time of their lives. But after a bit more exploration and an enlightening chat with the founder and president of Be at TV, Ray Smith, the limits to my thinking were quickly shown up.
The idea behind Be At TV might seem quite strange to some, sitting at home whilst watching other people in a club. What do your users get out of the site?
‘Be At TV is totally unique because all of our content is exclusive and available for free. There are two main ways in which people use the site. Firstly, because we go out and film all the world’s best festivals, DJs, clubs and music events, users can literally be at the best music destinations in the world from the comfort of their own home, office, or hall for free. Viewers can watch all the action filmed from multiple camera angles – including roaming the dance-floor and in the DJ box – which we broadcast via a split screen format and in HD.
‘That’s not to say its just for lapsed clubbers or that it replaces the experience of going out altogether – we offer lots of social networking features such as video tagging and user generated content so clubbers who have been there can personalise and share our content, extending their clubbing experiences long after the night ends.’
How did you come up with the concept of Be At TV?
‘Being massive electronic music fans ourselves, my business partner Damian Mould and I realised that there was a gap in the market for one community which brought together DJs, bars and clubs and music fans. And having worked in entertainment marketing and technology for over 20 years between us, we saw that web TV was the medium to make this idea achievable and exciting.’
Going out clubbing is quite a visceral experience with the sights and proximity to others being as important as the sounds. Are you sure you are able to capture the experience of a particular night?
‘Be At TV utilises bespoke video tagging technology which means our members can create their own ‘clubbing diary’ or share their experiences with their mates – for example embedding a thirty second clip of themselves dancing at the Pacha opening party onto their Facebook profile.
‘Our community means that you can re-connect with someone you met on holiday and engage with hundreds of thousands of other music fans from all over the world that you would never otherwise meet.’
Who are the DJs you are looking to work with and who have you already got on board?
‘We have backing from all the big names in all genres of ‘electronic music’ including Pete Tong, Groove Armada, Annie Mac, Laurent Garnier, Sasha, Audio Bullys and deadmau5. We recently filmed at Global Gathering and have some great new content from cross over acts like the Whip and we are always looking for up and coming new DJs who are increasingly using the site as a way to connect directly with their fans (a bit like bands did via MySpace).’
What are the different challenges for the site when covering festivals as opposed to club nights?
‘Obviously logistically its much more tricky. We have to keep a constant eye on scheduling and any changes so that we don’t miss the acts or DJs that we know are most important to our members who can’t be there in person. And for those that are using Be At TV to re-live their festival experience afterwards, we want to make sure they get added benefits such as going behind the scenes with the DJs.’
In your view, where does London stand on the house music scene?
‘I think a lot of people living in London take for granted how good the music scene is here. There are artist line-ups at certain clubs in London that people in other parts of the world only dream of. One of the reasons we are based here is because I believe this is the epicentre of where a lot of the new cutting edge music is coming from.’