Pioneer is getting a tremendous amount of blowback from users over licensing changes with the new version of their rekordbox DJ software.

Launched earlier this week, rekordbox 6.0 is embroiled in controversy following Pioneer’s decision to require an entirely new subscription plan to use version 6. In Pioneer’s own words, they are “ending the previous licensing system” that existed under rekordbox 5, and require a new subscription plan and a new license key.

This means that if you purchased a Pioneer hardware product with a rekordbox DJ license key, you cannot use it to activate recordbox 6.

Pioneer has also removed the option to pay a one-time upgrade fee.

“Sorry guys, you can complain all you want, but the decision has been made and the band-aid has been ripped off.”

That’s the root of the outrage – this decision to eliminate the one-time licensing fee (or what end-users would interpret as “purchasing” or “upgrading” rekordbox software) in favor of ongoing, infinite monthly subscription payments. It’s similar to the model used by Microsoft and Adobe for billing – but Microsoft and Adobe don’t sell hardware.

Select Pioneer hardware (which Pioneer has dubbed “rekordbox version 6 Hardware Unlock devices“) can run in Performance Mode with version 6. Others will continue to run only in rekordbox version 5 without a paid – and, again, monthly – subscription.

Pioneer’s rekordbox 6 FAQ confirms these and many other bizarre scenarios from their decision to “end the previous licensing system” and their official forums are a warzone.

One of the most fascinating threads is this one which has extensive commentary from one of Pioneer’s official accounts.

A working DJ poses a familiar scenario – playing at a bar using their CDJ-350s – and is told in an “official comment” that using rekordbox 6 in Performance Mode would now “require a plan.”

“Much like Adobe, Microsoft, and many others before us, we have moved from a one-time purchase model,” the Pioneer accounts says. “There is no longer an option to buy the software. Past upgrades are not compatible with the new software.”

Later the same official account informs users that the one-time licensing fee to upgrade is gone and it’s never coming back. “Sorry guys,” they write, “you can complain all you want, but the decision has been made and the band-aid has been ripped off.”

An interesting choice of words – and with that, the thread was locked.

Beyond the licensing issues, Pioneer has essentially “forked” their own software and crippled backward compatibility. According to rekordbox’s FAQ, customers can continue to use both rekordbox 5 and rekordbox 6, but not at the same time – and you’ll need both licenses. Pioneer also admits that if you switch between them, the two versions will no longer sync, and the Pioneer official confirms in the thread above that Pioneer will no longer develop rekordbox 5 at all. It’s probably a safe bet that while the hardware isn’t bricked, the re-sale value of most Pioneer gear made prior to the release of rekordbox 6 will be in decline.

And why Pioneer launched this now – at a time when even professional DJs are unable to make a living thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, and growing concern that clubs and festivals may not return until 2021 – is anyone’s guess.