A raft of new music services is heading to market in the next few months: YouTube, Beats Music (“Daisy”), Deezer in the U.S. Another might might join those ranks: Baboom, founded by notorious entrepreneur and hacker Kim Dotcom.
New Zealand-based Dotcom specializes in creating upload and file-sharing operations, and is generally loathed by media companies for his alleged large-scale copyright infringements. As a general hacker, he has been convicted of fraud and espionage crimes. He is presently fighting a U.S. attempt to extradite him from New Zealand to face Justice Department charges.
During all this, Kim Dotcom juggles several enterprise and music ventures. For nearly two years he has mentioned his intent to start a music listening, downloading, and/or purchasing business. Today Dotcom leaked a bit of specific information about Baboom, including the name.
Baboom’s business model, if executed, would be unique, and, without doubt, controversial. Dotcom discussed the way music would be purchased by users, and the information he teased strongly resembles his earlier product called Megakey. The plan centers on a browser plug-in which the user installs, and which hijacks ads on any site the user visits. In place of the site’s ads, the plug-in substitutes ads sold by Baboom through a private ad network. Ad revenue is shared with the user as credit, which can be applied to song and album purchases through Baboom. Dotcom promises 90-percent of the music price goes directly to the artist. (Artists who own their own labels, presumably.)
We think this scheme, admittedly clever, must open a legal question or two. Ad-blocking software is not new. But ad-hijacking software, which monetizes other sites for the benefit of Baboom, seems like a deeper level of irregularity.
Putting all this aside, and also sidestepping the possible issue of malware, if Baboom launches before the end of Q1 it will add to an intensely complicating music service landscape. With or without Baboom, it’s going to be an interesting 2014.