SOCIAL HUB: ROCK IN ANY LANGUAGE
July 29, 2012
By Marc Saltzman, Special for USA TODAY

Legendary rock group Kiss might open its shows with the classic Detroit Rock City, but you don't need to be in the Motor City— or even from the USA— to chat with the band in your mother tongue.

Launched in conjunction with the band's 40-city summer tour with Mötley Crüe, a new online tool called Kiss Social Hub (kissonline.com/socialhub) not only aggregates multiple social networks into one central platform (including Facebook, Twitter and Google+), but automatically translates text from 53 languages between fans and the band, in real time.

"For a group like us, an international audience is essential to continuing the growth and worldwide exposure of the rock experience we want to offer fans," Kiss bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons tells USA TODAY. "Connecting with them in their own language and familiar social networks makes the fan experience personal and direct, with no barriers of translation."

Kiss followers in Russia or China, for example, can write to the group at the Social Hub, but it instantly appears as English when viewed by band members and other fans. On the flip side, whatever Kiss writes back in English is viewed in the desired language a second or two later.

The band, which made its debut in makeup and platform boots 39 years and dozens of albums ago, says the ability to chat in real time with non-English-speaking followers wasn't possible until now.

"The experience for the international fan has completely changed over the past few years, (where) a global audience can hear from their favorite group in their own tongue," says guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley. "Now it's a possibility for every member of the Kiss Army in the farthest reaches of the globe to reach us directly."

Kiss Social Hub is powered by a technology called Ortsbo, a leading real-time communications platform used by more than 200 million people, according to its parent company Intertainment Media. The multilingual social-media chatting service is available on computers, Web browsers and mobile devices. A free Ortsbo app for Apple's iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) lets users chat live via Facebook with people in other languages. Coming soon is support for other social networks, including MSN, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk.

Kiss Social Hub will serve as the Web's command center for the band throughout the tour, which wraps Sept. 23 in Hartford, Conn.

"Expect live updates from us from each performance," Simmons says.

Simmons might not need this technology as much as the rest of the band, however, as his famously long tongue can speak five languages: English, Hebrew, Hungarian, German and some Japanese.