Review: Kado, A Crate-Digging Assistant For DJs
A few months back, a fascinating tool for DJs was released: Kado. The premise was simple: help DJs search for related songs to a single track, using data from what tracks real DJs play before or after the search song. How well does Kado really work for digging? In todays review, guest contributor Chrys Bader has put together an in-depth review of the tool.
“All that matters is what song you play next”.
When I first started DJing, Kado founder AJ Asver dispensed some of his own wisdom to me from his DJ experiences, “All that matters is what song you play next”.
That has always stuck with me, and now he’s applying that philosophy with his new app, Kado. In this review of the new service, I take a deep look at the service and how it’s had an impact on my DJ life.
What Is Kado?
Kado is a desktop application that helps you discover new tracks in a way that’s never been done before. Simply drag a song into Kado and it will immediately show you recommendations based on what other DJs have played before and after your track, or in the same set. You can listen to the tracks right in Kado and toss the ones you like into your “crate” (basically a shopping cart), and then you can easily buy the tracks directly from Beatport or iTunes.
Kado is still very early in development and the technology behind it is already quite impressive. They have trained their recommendation engine by analyzing over 750K DJ sets and are continually adding new data sources.
If you don’t have a particular song you want to match, Kado has a few other ways to discover relevant tracks:
Kado’s personalized feed will show you new releases that are relevant to you based on your previous matches as well as the content of your library. It’s separated by day and a red dot helps you know which tracks you haven’t listened to yet. This is a great way to stay on top of the new tracks that might matter to you.
This is Kados’ version of the Billboard top 100, based on what songs are actually being played in DJ sets around the world. The arrows beneath the numbers show you who is rising and falling in the ranks.
Kado also has a live mode, which makes real-time recommendations from your own library during a performance. I download a lot of music and the songs are not always organized into playlists or sets. I didn’t realize how many songs I’d forgotten about until I used Kado Live. They often come up as suggestions while I’m DJing, so those tracks that you once downloaded and forgot about can now rise from the grave at an appropriate time. Worth noting, this feature only works with Traktor libraries right now.
This feature has been controversial, with some folks calling it “cheating”. Personally, I think it allows for more serendipity. It doesn’t make the choice for you, instead it gives you a menu to choose from. And with the ability to remind you of tracks you’ve totally forgotten about, I think it could help DJs have more fun and do a better job.
How Does Kado Help DJs?
I have several different approaches to finding new songs for my sets:
- I go through my SoundCloud feed and branch out into related songs when I hear something I like.
- I follow several blogs and websites to keep up with the trend setters and watchers
- While buying tracks, I use BeatPort’s BeatBot to explore similar tracks.
- Beyond apps, I have a small group of friends with similar taste that send me stuff they think I’ll like.
Kado provides a different point of view from these discovery channels. It’s built specifically for filling out DJ sets, so I usually use it first when I’m actively sourcing songs for a set. It feels like “cutting to the chase”, versus wandering around the Internet hoping to find something. Bear in mind that Kado is only good at finding things that other DJs are already spinning, so if you’re looking to play only undiscovered songs, you’ll still need to scour SoundCloud.
It would be nice to be able to buy songs without having to go to an external website
Kado is young, so it still quite unrefined. It would be nice to be able to buy songs without having to go to an external website, and hopefully they will build deeper integrations as they become more popular. Kado is also stronger in some genres than others. It’s particularly great for house music, but it’s been a little hit or miss for other genres like trap and bass music.
At only $5/mo, I think Kado is totally worth it. It fits nicely along my existing music discovery methods, and provides a unique view that I can’t get anywhere else. It has become a regular tool in my set building, and I would definitely miss it if it went away.
Kado’s Impact + Future for DJs
As a DJ, 90% of the work is discovering and organizing music, and 10% is the actual performance. That 90% is the hard work that we do behind the scenes where we shape our perspective and express our unique taste. With millions of new songs released every year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find signal through the noise. On top of that, managing a music library is tedious. The user interface is very limiting. Playlists are essentially folders of files. It functions like a spreadsheet. It’s a technology that is built on old thinking, and with the advent of AI and machine learning, that can all change.
Imagine if you could discover new music as you’re building a set
Imagine if you could discover new music as you’re building a set, easily filter for songs by BPM, key, and energy in a smart way. Imagine if your library came to life while you were performing and worked with you to create magical moments. If instead of having five apps and website tabs open, you could fill, organize, and perform your music library all from one place.
Since Kado aggregates all the information about which DJ is playing what songs, they could also have an opportunity to build out a sort of social network for DJs. Imagine a place where you can see what tracks your favorite DJs are playing, find similar DJs, and even have your own profile to show off your stuff. They used this data to publish fascinating data about DJs and their songs in 2016. Kado Live can already record your live tracklist when you perform, so it would be easy for them to publish it to your profile.
It’s a long ways away from this imaginary future, but that’s the future I hope to see from Kado.