Say what you want about Kim Dotcom: the man knows how to make a splash. On Monday, the day before the Mega founder’s 40th birthday, he soft-launched his much-talked-about streaming music answer to Spotify, Baboom, with his newest album, Good Times.
The service is scheduled for a late 2014 launch, but the sneak peek Dotcom has provided is pretty intriguing. Although Good Times is actually available in stores and on iTunes, according to TorrentFreak, Baboom offers the album for free in .MP3, .FLAC and .WAV forms, along with high-quality samples for producers to be used in a remix contest. In addition to the album, Dotcom’s Baboom page includes videos, photos, and a live social stream — acting more like a homepage for artists than just another music page.
Also interesting is that Baboom basically offers a pay-what-you-want model. Dotcom encourages viewers to purchase the album, but only through Amazon (s amzn), iTunes (s aapl) and Bandcamp (see disclosure). Money doesn’t directly flow through the site, even though compensation for artists seems to be at the forefront.
Oddly enough, I don’t see Baboom much as a direct competitor for Spotify — rather, an expanded version of SoundCloud or a cleaner execution of MySpace. If it unfolds perfectly, Baboom stands to become a smart platform for free singles and mixtapes, which emerging artists have turned to recently for increased exposure, rather than paid albums commonly found on streaming music services. Dotcom hasn’t disclosed whether Baboom will use his controversial ad-revenue scheme , or a more traditional subscription model, but if a revenue model is in place, then it may be enough to convince more traditional labels to give Baboom a shot.
Bandcamp is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom. Om Malik, founder of Gigaom, is also a venture partner at True.