Dotcom lands a headline gig, dials-down political expectations
The Kimfather: Dotcom with co-accused Mathias Ortmann (left) and Scoop editor and general manager Alastair Thompson.
There were rumours of a GCSB presence, but it's always hard to detect. Left-to-right: Kate Newton (Radio NZ), Frances Cook (Newstalk ZB), Kirsty Johnston (Stuff), Michael Foreman (West Auckland man)
As ever with Dotcom, there are hidden messages and hints.Going back over my photos I see this one - of Kim with actress Kate Elliott (at the party with her husband, Pluto lead singer Milan Borich) - features a chap with an Emirates Team NZ shirt in the background. Dotcom has offered to sponsor NZ's next challenge, although as with a number his concepts, details are hazy at this point.
Vospertron dancers wearing electroluminescent costumes, pictured with Mona and Kim Dotcom, were a highlight Friday night. Look for them to appear with him at Rhythm & Vines, too.
When Kim Dotcom launched Mega January 20, there was huge crowd at his $30 million rented Coatesville mansion. But it was hard to spot many familiar faces (beyond Tiki Taane, who performed). Kim had been cold-shouldered by the local entertainment industry.
Last night, at a Dotcom Mansion listening party for his album "Good Times", there were signs the giant German is inveigling himself into the mainstream.
On hand was Rhythm & Vines founder Hamish Pinkham, who confirmed to the crowd that Dotcom and his band will close this year's three-day festival, taking the stage at midnight to see in the New Year [UPDATE: read a review of Dotcom's performance here.]
R&V is not only the trendiest multi-day festival going; it's also big busiiness. 25,000 to 30,000 are expected at the Gisborne event this year.
It wouldn't have hurt R&V organisers' calculations that Dotcom is promising not just to play his latest music, but also promises a monster fire and light show, with LED clad dancers (see pics below) and his biggest fireworks display yet (and his press release notes on New Years' 2010 he spent $500,000 on an Auckland harbour fireworks display; it Dotcom's offer to fund the pyrotechnics that fatefully led to an approach from then mayor John Banks).
Dotcom collaborated on Good Times with producer and DJ Printz Board, best known for his work with The Black Eyed Peas.
Friday night was a listening party. Dance music isn't really my bag, but Dotcom's new tracks seem pretty slick; in general people were surprised, in a good way. The consensus was it would go down well with the festival crowd.
In the audience were club and radio DJs, including Tim Phin and a crew from MediaWorks' station The Edge (quite a turnaround from January, when MediaWorks refused to run ads for Dotcom's Mega). It doesn't hurt that The Edge is one of the R&V sponsors.
Dotcom says his Good Times album will be released to the public at an event at the mansion on January 20.
Wait, wasn't that date - the second anniversary of the raid - going to be the launch of his political party?
Dotcom tells NBR the political party will no be the subject of a "soft launch" (perhaps he can join Matthew Hooton in his summer of reflection).
Various members of Dotcom's legal team were among the guests - including Simpson Grierson partner Greg Towers, whose involvement with the entrepreneur predates the 2012 raid.
None were talking on the record, but it's fair to say there's a general expectation that Dotcom's damages case against the Police and GCSB, due to be heard in March, will delay his extradition case (currently due to be heard in April; it's already been subject to several postponements).
Dotcom had, of course, already gained NZ residency before the 2012 raid, and was quite happy in Coatesville. But things must be a bit tougher on co-accused Bram van der Kolk, Mathias Ortmann and Finn Batato, who flew into NZ two years ago for Kim's birthday party, and have spent most of the past 24 months on bail, with no end in sight.
Vander Kolk's parents are in NZ at the moment and were at the party. As ever, the co-accused were relaxed and affable. And, as ever, Ortmann - Mega's chief technology officer and the most serious of the four - was dressed in business. casual. Take away the light show and blaring dance music and he could have been someone at an IBM conference (and, yes, he does actually do heavy lifting at tech events).
Also in attendance was LG national sales manager Glen Chean. What's LG's interest? Mr Chean said his company has discussed a couple of concepts with Dotcom. That could get interesting, given LG and other consumer electronics companies are dipping their toes in online content, and Dotcom is inching toward the launch of his new Baboom content selling and sharing service - but for now things sounded very preliminary, and mysterious; it could be a mirage, or it could blow everything else out of the water. A typical Dotcom project, then.
Guests leaving the party were giiven a free copy of Dotcom's first single off Good Times (cue inevitable jokes about uploading it to Mega). Watch for the final version to appear on Baboom, which the Internet entrepreneur says will be like a cross between Spotify and iTunes.