Kim Dotcom of Megaupload fame (or, rather, infamy) and file-sharing service Mega has today offered a sneak peek of his latest project, music service Baboom, which was previously known as Megabox. The site is scheduled to open its doors in late 2014, but this “soft launch” serves as a way for users to check out the service in advance, while also sampling Dotcom’s own album, Good Times.
The album, which is already on Google Play and iTunes, is available both for streaming and download on Baboom in MP3, FLAC, and WAV formats. In addition, the accompanying artist profile page features things like photos, videos, interviews, social updates and more. Users can follow an artist’s Twitter account with a click of a button, too. Meanwhile, Baboom’s navigation is available in a simple sidebar on the right, which will soon let you access Search functions, your music library, plus Activity and Jukebox pages, when the service becomes publicly available later this year.
What’s interesting about Baboom, or at least Dotcom’s Europop album featured on the site, is that it’s being offered both as a free download and paid. For paid downloads, the site points users to official music marketplaces, including iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.
As Dotcom explains in the video posted next to his own album, “my idea is that artists should make their music available for free, and fans should only pay for it if they really like it.”
“So I’m going to lead by example today,” he adds, encouraging users to make his album number one to prove that this model can work.
It’s not an entirely crazy idea to release free downloads – after all, the appeal of today’s radio-like streaming services is not necessarily their fancy personalization algorithms but the ability to listen to music you like for free. Services like SoundCloud have also prospered because they’ve allowed a place for lesser-known or upcoming artists to feature their work and grow a fan base. But many of today’s on-demand services, like leading Baboom competitor Spotify, have to some extent struggled with aspects surrounding music discovery, too heavily focusing on the social graph instead of an individual’s own musical tastes. (After all, your Facebook friends don’t necessarily like what you like, nor do you always care what they play.)
That being said, Baboom may be hard-pressed to compete head-on with the established services and platforms in the space, but by making an appeal to forward-thinking artists who have a better understanding of the shifting landscape in the music industry, there’s a chance that Baboom could end up looking more like a modern-day Myspace.
Myspace, for those of you who only recall it vaguely as some pre-cursor to Facebook, originally took off because of its focus on music discovery, and being known as a platform where artists could connect directly with their fans. They could host profile pages, let Myspace users listen to tracks for free, and fans could in turn optionally post their favorite songs to their own profiles.
Baboom feels familiar, almost like the way Myspace would look had it grown with the changing times instead of exiting to News Corp and later becoming something of a joke. Baboom may not grow into a social network of its own, but it’s easy to see how, if artists choose to embrace the platform, it could serve those same urges to freely sample music while learning what you like, then buying the albums belonging to your favorites.
You can check out Baboom for yourself, and sign up to be alerted when it launches.