The first time I saw KUVO was this year at NAMM, and I instantly thought it looked like a great concept. As a long time user of Richie Hawtin's Twitter DJ, I like the idea of an app that broadcasts a DJ's playlist to the audience in real time. KUVO is the newest platform from Pioneer DJ that connects DJs, nightclubs and club goers around the world using Pioneer DJ's innovative KUVO app and website. KUVO gives DJs the opportunity to share the music they're playing and allows fans to follow them, check out previous sets and find the clubs they're playing them in. Sound intriguing? KUVO is definitely worth a closer look...
How it Works—For the Clubs
Venues who are interested in using KUVO must have a compatible Pioneer DJ setup, which means the latest CDJs and mixers that feature a LAN port. A high speed gigabyte connection inside the venue is also essential to have the KUVO system work properly. If a venue would like to use KUVO, they simply need to contact Pioneer, who will send out a free KUVO box. They will even send out multiple KUVO boxes for different rooms. Venues will have to connect the KUVO box using the Pioneer Pro DJ Link and network hub. Once that's setup, the clubs simply need to switch on the DJ equipment, KUVO box and book some DJs who are eager to try this exciting new platform out.
For the Fans
Kuvo can be a fun to use, whether you're a clubber or a DJ. If you're an avid dance music fan, you can use KUVO to discover real-time info about what songs are playing in the club, or other clubs around the world. Using the KUVO app, you can follow your fav DJs, 'like' the tracks from within the app and download them from iTunes. You can also read messages from DJs and clubs, and share these on your social media. If you're an avid trainspotter like me, KUVO is a great app because you can actually find out what songs are playing, and learn more about the producers who make the dance music you love. And if you'd rather enjoy a night out dancing without looking at your phone, you can check the DJ's playlist the next day when you finally roll out of out bed. Not bad for a free app!
For those who enjoy clubbing on a global level, KUVO includes a club map that lists clubs all around the world where DJs are using KUVO. You can search clubs by locations, or follow the DJs you like and find out which clubs they'll be playing at. You might find a few clubs you've never heard of before!
For the DJs
KUVO offers DJs a very unique way to promote themselves and share the music they love with fans. Kuvo gives you the ability to stream live set information and embed messages or links in your tracks. It's a very cool way to interact with your audience, and help fans to learn more about your music and the music you play. It's an especially useful app if you play a lot of your own material, as KUVO includes a link where fans can buy your tracks online right at the show.
To get started, DJs can register for Kuvo online and link their KUVO account with rekordbox or a USB device (rekordbox is Pioneer DJ's proprietary DJ software). You'll need to make sure you're running the latest version of rekordbox (version 3.2.1 at time of writing). Once you're logged into KUVO, the first thing to do is to build a profile so you can start to interact with the KUVO community. If you're already using rekordbox to analyze and organize your music, when you export your tracks and play them in a KUVO club, tracks that are marked 'public' will automatically be broadcast to fans via the KUVO website. If you don't want the audience to find out the name of every single song you're playing, you can mark your tracks 'private' (as opposed to 'public') in rekordbox. When you're organizing songs in rekordbox, you can embed messages in your tracks, which allows you to promote release dates, special events or even give shout-outs to fans when you play your tracks. When you play the track in a KUVO club, the track and message will appear on the KUVO website and app. Pretty cool stuff!
If you're not a rekordbox user, you can still use KUVO by registering on the KUVO website, then clicking connect and selecting 'edit profile'. From there, scroll down and click the download account key; this downloads the KUVO account file which you will need to copy to your USB or SD memory device. When you play tracks from this USB key in a KUVO club, the information about your tracks will automatically be sent to the KUVO community.
It's great that KUVO is available for DJs who play with USB keys to use, but I would really like to see an integration between KUVO and the leading DJ software platfoms. It would be helpful if there was a way that tracks could be played directly from the software program and track lists could be broadcast via KUVO. Perhaps in the future we'll see this happen, but for the moment KUVO is most useful to DJs who play with USB keys or use rekordbox.
Benefits to the Larger Electronic Music Community
I believe KUVO is a great concept that will benefit the electronic music community as a whole. KUVO helps to promote producers, clubs and DJs and allows interaction between the DJs and the audience. Beyond this, it promotes awareness of the records that are being played in clubs which will hopefully encourage performing rights societies, or organizations similar to them to begin to pay a royalty fee to producers when their tracks are played in clubs. KUVO is supported by the Association for Electronic Music, who have started a campaign to support paying artists when their tracks are played called #GETPLAYEDGETPAID. I believe that if enough DJs and clubs begin to use apps like KUVO that it will help to forward a movement towards having producers paid when their records are played in the clubs.
In the meantime, KUVO is an incredible way to promote awareness of the tracks DJs play, and for club goers it's a great way to learn more about electronic dance music. If you're into underground music, chances are an app like Shazam is not going to be able to to tag every song correctly, while KUVO will give you the correct track title and artist so you can discover the names of the tunes you love. Overall, KUVO is a very promising app with the potential to make a positive change in the electronic music scene. Hopefully in the months to come, we'll see an increasing number of DJs and clubs start to use it and the KUVO community will continue to grow.
I do wish that there was a way that KUVO could be used in combination with digital DJing software. It may be too much of a challenge for DJs who have been playing with DJ software for years to switch to using Rekordbox or USB keys in order to use KUVO. This is the only real disadvantage that I can see with KUVO. I also would prefer if the link to buy tracks from KUVO was linked directly to Beatport, (instead of iTunes) as they offer higher quality files. Other than that, KUVO is an amazing concept that I believe will clubbers, club owners and DJ/producers will all benefit from. Thank you Pioneer!