I’m writing this while listening to the latest album from Kim Dotcom which is running on a demo of his upcoming new music service, Baboom. Dotcom is rapidly moving from cool to awesome on the Richter scale of innovative dogged persistence. And it must be driving the fuddy-duddy music industry nuts.
What makes his web services so great is the fact that he seems to have an instinctive understanding of how to merge value with an ultra friendly user interface, as he demonstrated so well with his launch of the Mega file storage service a while back.
There’s no flim-flam involved in his apps, just sheer get-going utility, and it really works. Over 1 million people signed up to Mega in the first 24 hours of its launch. There’s every chance that we’ll see the same kind of phenomenon with Baboom when it hits the ground later this year.
The secret sauce that Dotcom also brings to his projects is the good will of a developer community which loves his David and Goliath attitude to the massed legions of music industry lawyers. Ever since the incredibly dumb SWAT raid on his home in New Zealand (and subsequent heavy handed Megaupload shutdown) by the music industry masquerading as law enforcement, he can seemingly do no wrong with this geek constituency, and so every project gets an immediate uplift of support and attention.
He also knows how to engage and enthuse his user base with giveaways, competitions and the like, which is how this showman geek builds his massive audiences and fans. The signs are that Baboom will carry on this tradition in many different ways as the demo suggests.
So will the new Baboom really ‘revolutionize’ the music industry? Maybe, maybe not. There’s no doubt that the demo of the service is really slick even though it’s clearly not finished, with a great look and feel and the kind of super easy navigation that draws users like a magnet. But the one thing that’s different now is the fact that web services are typically not enough to deliver the kind of loyalty that music services need.
To do that, will require a robust and equally enticing mobile app suite, and in that arena he’ll be up against some pretty solid players like Spotify, Pandora and other music streaming services. But from first look at the web service, we’re thinking that if he can repeat the feature set (e.g. there’s a lovely Download tab which shows with one click, all the music and videos available for download from a particular artist) on mobile, and really deliver a decent payment system for artists, then the whole game is up in the air again, and no incumbent will be safe.
The idea is for the artist to give away their music for free, and Dotcom’s service will pay them based on a share of the advertising revenue of the site. It depends on traffic, sure, and it’s nothing that hasn’t been done before (MP3.com was based on a very similar system back in the day), but again there’s no guarantee that people will want to find and consume their music on a website rather than their phone.
Still there’s every chance that Dotcom has thought of all the angles, so we’ll just have to see how it works out when the master showman finally launches the new Portuguese based service. It’s going to be interesting!