KUVO – Connecting The Global Dance Music Industry

Pioneer DJ, a manufacturer of DJ decks and mixers, has launched a cloud based platform to connect club patrons, nightclubs and DJs, potentially positioning itself to serve as an intelligence platform for the dance music community.

The digitization of music distribution has transformed the dance music industry for nightclubs, DJs and club patrons alike. With digital audio formats like MP3 and MPEG4, and online distribution platforms like Beatport, DJs have expanded their repertoire, allowing club patrons to enjoy the latest music at nightclubs all over the world.

Pioneer DJ (“PDJ”) has led this digital revolution. Initially, with its range of hardware, its decks and mixers, and software that allowed DJs to play digital audio formats, and now, with its launch of KUVO, a cloud-based platform and service that connects club patrons, DJs and nightclubs.

KUVO streams real-time information about which tracks DJs are playing in nightclubs. On the back end, this requires nightclubs to become KUVO-enabled. Nightclubs can become KUVO-enabled by connecting PDJ decks to a network gateway, the “KUVO box”, that connects the decks to KUVO’s cloud-based internet server. The KUVO box records the metadata of a track that a DJ is playing and streams this online. On the front end, users can either access the KUVO website or download the KUVO app to view this information.

Connecting club patrons, DJs and nightclubs in this way makes the dance music industry more transparent and efficient, which should see the whole industry grow.

Having this information accessible to club patrons is great for DJs, particularly those on independent dance music labels. Often, these labels cannot afford to promote their artists on music platforms like iTunes, relying instead on distributing their music to be played in nightclubs. Before KUVO, the efficacy of this channel was questionable; applications like Shazam can’t detect songs that have had their pitch adjusted, meaning that club patrons have no access to track information, and so can’t purchase the music. Additionally, as part of the #GetPlayedGetPaid campaign, a campaign to prevent the misallocation of performance royalties, KUVO streams this metadata directly to performance rights organizations. Historically, close to US$ 150 million of royalties are ‘lost’ or misallocated each year, making it difficult for up-and-coming DJs to see a return from their music.[1]

With the KUVO map, club patrons can find out which DJ is playing and what tracks are being played in KUVO-enabled clubs nearby to decide which club they should frequent. This saves both time and money for club patrons, reducing club-hopping and repeat cover charges.

So far, PDJ has revealed no plans to monetize KUVO, focusing solely on scaling its network. PDJ is offering the KUVO box for free to nightclubs that use PDJ equipment, and is launching KUVO in flagship nightclubs in major nightlife destinations like London and Ibiza. Additionally, PDJ is building KUVO’s affinity with the tightly-knit dance music community with campaigns like #GetPlayedGetPaid and with its roster of sponsored DJs to promote KUVO. PDJ has grown the KUVO network to 430 leading clubs and more than 600k DJs. With this, PDJ is betting that DJs and performing rights organizations, which issue licenses to nightclubs, will mandate that nightclubs provide this metadata, requiring them to become KUVO-enabled.

In the immediate term, PDJ is looking to KUVO to differentiate its hardware and software from that of its competitors. But, PDJ are now exploring the opportunity to develop KUVO to become an open system, which would see it become an add-in built into non-PDJ hardware, from which PDJ could earn a commission on sales. This “add-in model” has proven to be highly lucrative model for developers of specialist DJ hardware and software, e.g. Serato, Traktor and Ableton. More than this, an open system “add-in model” would drive the proliferation of KUVO, providing valuable network benefits, which could allow PDJ to add its current hardware and software business.

KUVO could become a business intelligence platform to support nightclubs. The insight KUVO provides could help nightclubs better curate their roster of DJs, events and music selection by aggregating and reporting on what latest music is being played elsewhere. KUVO’s proposition could be strengthened if its metadata could be combined with beverage sales and admissions data collected from nightclubs, to demonstrate how a DJ, a genre of music, or a specific song can affect admissions and beverage sales. This platform could operate as an online database but also as a SaaS platform, requiring nightclubs to upload and match their POS data with KUVO to enable more user-defined analysis.

With club patrons downloading the KUVO app on their smartphone, KUVO could extract playlists from music libraries of club patrons, particularly those in the local area, to support a nightclub’s music curation and communication efforts. Clubs could use KUVO to push-notify club patrons when its music selection matches that of a club patrons’ music library.

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https://www.xlr8r.com/gear/2014/10/kuvo-what-is-it-how-does-it-work-and-is-it-a-good-idea-a-k-a-an-xlr8r-interview-with-pioneer-about-its-newest-product/ accessed 16th of November 2016








[1] https://radr.dj/beta/news accessed 16th November 2016


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Student comments on KUVO – Connecting The Global Dance Music Industry

  1. Interesting article. You mention that KUVO would stream “real-time information about which tracks DJs are playing in nightclubs”, and that this would help better allocate royalties. While I agree that such a platform would facilitate the transfer of information, I still doubt its capability to recognise a large number of the tracks being played. My experience is that DJs often play “pre-made” remixes that distort the original version(s), and so unless DJs perfectly title the track they play in the system (i.e using a codified format, mentioning artists, name of track, … in right order) the system won’t be able to recognize the tracks that are played. I doubt that KUVO has a better algorithm than Shazam has. Also, even club enthusiasts are having a hard time recognizing what tracks a DJ has played; http://www.1001tracklists.com is a site I use to track songs played by DJs, you can notice that some tracks (about 20% of a playlist) can’t be identified by DJ enthusiasts So in conclusion, I like the KUVO platform as a social tool but I would be worried about using it for allocating royalties, unless DJs are “forced” to pre-identify clearly their tracks before playing a DJ set.

  2. I think it is interesting that KUVO is sharing information about which DJs are playing in nightclubs at so many places around the world. This creates a flow of information across borders. Music created by DJs in one location will be more likely to influence DJs at other places in the world. This is neither a good nor a bad thing but I think it will reduce the “local” aspect of music that many people like. New “sounds” created in a certain community will proliferate across the world much faster and it will be tough to pinpoint where that has originated, losing one aspect of charm of music.

  3. Very interesting article, Izkandar, thank you! I worry about the implications of more data on the potential for local music and non-mainstream DJs to experiment with new music. Will owners of nightclubs be willing to give opportunities to untried musicians and music in the face of data that clearly shows a link between drinks sales and popular mainstream music? There will always be a market for people who want to explore places off the beaten path, but I wonder if this is the first step to commoditisation of nightclubs (and maybe even franchising)?

  4. I like this article. I sense an opportunity for record labels to utilise this data in the sourcing and marketing of new artists, in addition to the ability to more equitably attribute royalties as you mention. I am not so concerned about the recognition of every song played, nor the increasing homogeneity of music. I think this platform creates an opportunity to “lower the bar” in terms scale reached by the artist, instead creating and ROI-based metric with which to estimate the potential value of a new act. Such a change may increase the variety of record labels’ portfolios, creating more value for both artists and listeners.

  5. Great article Izkander – really interesting to see how a company is thinking about leveraging technology to create value for its customers in new ways. The strategy of giving boxes to clubs for free is a clever way of exploiting a first mover advantage to gain scale. It seems that with this kind of network based product, scale will be a competitive advantage. A club would be unlikely to run two competitor of these systems in parallel, so getting there first on the club side really matters.

  6. Interesting Article! This seems to have many implications! (1) Improving customer satisfaction by providing more information before the purchasing decision (which club to frequent) is made; (2) It provides a global platform for upcoming artists and an even playing field; (3) Intelligence services to nightclub to help them optimize and curate their DJ roster and (4) It has potential implications on royalties of smaller dance labels. Even though, there are no plans to monetize KUVO, where do you think the opportunity lies? Is there a way to quantify their potential impact?

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