Pioneer DJ has announced Rekordbox 6.0 and Rekordbox for iOS v3. The new DJ application suite scraps the previous licensing model, replacing it with subscription tiers. In its highest tier, Rekordbox now allows you to sync your whole music library on multiple devices.
By also incorporating Beatport Link (and Beatsource Link from late Spring), Soundcloud Go+ and the InFlyte promo locker service, Rekordbox 6.0’s stated aim is to help DJs manage all their music in one place.
As well as the cloud, streaming and subscription changes, there have been a host of other improvements to the software, and together these updates represent the biggest change to Rekordbox in years. In this article, we’ll look first at the subscription and cloud features, then at the other new features, then give you some first thoughts.
Our First Look Review
Subscriptions & cloud features
Here are the main points regarding the subscription tiers & cloud features. Later we’ll look at other changes to the software.
Firstly, there are three new subscription packages (Free, Core and Creative), which DJs can switch between as they need to or wish to use different features. The paid-for plans have 30-day free trials.
With the Free subscription package, DJs can now for the first time use elements of the “Performance” version of the software from their laptops as a “virtual DJing” environment, as well as the traditionally free preparation (“Export”) mode. Plug in a “hardware unlock” device (ie a controller that came/comes with “Rekordbox”) and this version will work as Rekordbox always has, with all the usual performance features unlocked. Think XDJ-RX2, XDJ-XZ, XDJ-RR, pretty much all the modern DDJ controllers, and the DJM-250 mk2, DJM-450 and DJM-750 Mk2.
The Core subscription package allows DJs with non Rekordbox-enabled supported devices to also DJ with Rekordbox as described above – such users pay a subscription for the same level of software that Rekordbox-enabled controller users get for free. This allows users of, for instance, certain Pioneer DJ Serato controllers to choose to use Rekordbox, but also the rest of Pioneer DJ’s digital-enabled DJ gear – all the CDJ and XDJ players, the pro Nexus gear, for instance.
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But the Creative subscription package is where things get interesting. Here is where DJs get centralised music management via the cloud. Playlists, tracks and metadata like cue points can be worked on across studio computer, laptop and phone (four devices maximum). The actual music is stored in Dropbox, DJ metadata stored in Pioneer’s own servers (however, the integration between the two is seamless to the end user).
All paid subscriptions come with a free month trial. Users who choose a paid subscription level before 13 July 2020 pay a reduced monthly rate, locked in for all future Rekordbox 6 updates. Prices are £/$/€7 before 13 July and £/$/€10 after for the Core plan, and £/$/€10 before 13 July and £/$/€15 after for the Creative plan.
Rekordbox 6.0 now integrates with Inflyte, the global music promotion platform, and if you have Dropbox enabled, Rekordbox can automatically import promos for you.
Mobile Library Sync means even if you don’t have a subscription plan, you can still transfer music between Rekordbox 6.0 and Rekordbox For iOS 3.0, by connecting both devices to the same network. If you edit cue points, playlists and so on on your phone, they’ll sync back to the library on your computer once the devices are both on the same network again.
Note that earlier Rekordbox subscriptions do not transfer to 6.0 – although Pioneer DJ says it will continue to support Rekordbox 5.
Pioneer DJ has added a whole host of further new features and improvements to the software, too.
Most obvious are the new three band (“3Band”) waveforms, giving visual representation of frequencies in Rekordbox 6.0, which can be stacked or layered on top of each other depending on the view you choose. Pioneer DJ has used blue for low frequencies, amber for mids, and white for highs, and the waveforms look like a cross between Denon DJ’s Engine waveforms and Virtual DJ’s “peaking” waveforms.
There’s a new light skin, for using the software daytime outdoors (maybe won’t be needed for a while at the time of writing, deep into Lockdown…).
Auto relocate means Rekordbox can now search within specified folders for files you have inadvertently moved and therefore which it can no longer find – a nice feature, although good library management should mean you never need to use it.
A nice new addition is direct connection to CDJs and XDJs in Rekordbox for iOS 3.0 – you can find, review and prep tracks on your mobile device and add them to your sets fully analysed including hot cues etc, without importing them to or exporting them from your laptop.
At last, there is Ableton Link support, for easy syncing of master tempo on external devices, with VJ and LJ software, indeed anything that works with Ableton Link. Surprised it took them so long.
And there are many big GUI and feature improvements to Rekordbox for iOS 3.0 – Playlist Box, Quick Cue, Realtime Memory Cues, “Dual Control” (lets you preview specific points in a mix when prepping), independent A/B decks, Beatjump, Manual Loop, MyTag – the whole thing feels much more like Export mode on laptop Rekordbox.
Tech wise, with this version of the Rekordbox brace of apps, Pioneer DJ has leapfrogged the competition in being the first to bring a cloud locker to DJ software.
Now, it is easy to see a future where pro DJs log in to Pioneer gear in a DJ booth and everything is just “there”. The next-gen Nexus gear will almost definitely close this circle and offer a complete solution.
Subscription-wise, while many resist subscriptions and we fully expect a vocal knee-jerk user backlash when people assume they’re about to be charged for something they’ve previously had for free, they are the way the world is going, and Rekordbox is very much going with the tide on that one.
Plus, the Free level means DJs who just want to prep music on Rekordbox and DJ from USB will only see improvements (as it is far more capable than before), and users whose devices were supplied with Rekordbox will continue to have their software as before, not cost anything.
There may be some resistance to paying for the “Core” version, especially for users who own Rekordbox 5.0 and use it with older gear, who now in order to use Rekordbox 6.0 and forward will have no choice but to buy a subscription – but time will tell how many people this affects and how many are actually using Rekordbox in this way.
The full-flavoured Creative level at £/$/€10 a month is not cheap for hobbyists, and certainly not at £/$/€15 a month – but then again, users of the services and features it enables are likely to be gigging DJs for whom it won’t be a major consideration.
One thing we liked is the ability for DJs to make playlists with music from “all over the place”. So you can have playlist containing SoundCloud Go+, Beatport Link, local and Inflyte tracks, and really, not worry too much where the tracks you are playing have come from. That said, although we’d like to see SoundCloud allow offline caching of tracks if it really wants to be seen as a serious service for pro DJs.
Pioneer DJ should add a consumer streaming service, too – most controller/laptop DJs are not convinced by SoundCloud or Beatport’s streaming services and just want to plug in something to give them access to music without buying it. The competition still have the edge on Rekordbox in this respect.
Finally, Pioneer DJ’s commitment to mobile is another “unique” – and it may prove to be a prescient move, as mobile devices continue to become more and more important in the daily lives of DJs. Mobile Library Sync for free may, therefore, prove to be a masterstroke. We recall Traktor trying and failing to incorporate features like these years back – the chances of Pioneer not following this through seem slight indeed. We wish it was for iPad too, though!
Read this next: What Rekordbox 6 Just started Will Change DJing Forever
• Prices are £/$/€7 a month before 13 July and £/$/€10 after for the Core plan, and £/$/€10 a month before 13 July and £/$/€15 after for the Creative plan. All paid subscriptions come with a free month trial. Reduced monthly rate before 13 July is locked in for all future Rekordbox 6 updates. Find out more about Rekordbox 6.0 and Rekordbox for iOS 3.0 on the new Pioneer DJ Rekordbox website.
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