Monday, January 11, 2016

Bowie, a businessman fascinated by new technologies – Les Echos

Died Sunday at the age of 69, David Bowie thought, like Andy Warhol, that “a business that works is the best art that either.” The successive incarnations (Hunky Dory, Aladdin Sane …) of this artist who started in advertising can thus be seen, apart from their artistic legitimacy as ways to renew themselves on the record market.

A pioneer in his musical work, David Bowie was also, for example, in the distribution of his work. First major artist to offer a download in single (“Telling lies”) in 1997, it also comes out as early as 1999 his new album, “Hours” entirely online. “I am pleased to move the lines of the music industry and to download the norm, not the exception” , he said then.

Meanwhile, it is one of the first to launch its website and creates a very … ISP, BowieNet to facilitate access for fans his music, the United States and the United Kingdom. For £ 10 per month or $ 20, users have access to the Internet but also to a set of content (photos, videos, exclusive chats with the artist, Web radio …) or to an email address “”.

In 2012, he prophesies the end of copyright within ten years

“I wanted to create an environment where not only my fans, but all fans of music, would be members of a single community, where we could access vast musical archives and where we could exchange ideas, information … “, if he so justifies.

To operate BowieNet, he created his own company specializing in Internet services, Ultrastar, whose value exceeds $ 800 million in 1999 and then launched into the bank online 2000 BowieBanc. Objective: “make banking and financial services sexy”! The bursting of the Internet bubble, a few months later, will put his entrepreneurial ambitions muted.

His vision of the sector, Bowie also expressed in an interview given to “New York Times” in 2002 and titled by the US daily “David Bowie, 21st century entrepreneur “. There are prophesies the end of copyright within ten years. History gives him wrong, but the spirit is there: it then press irreversible changes, advocates for disintermediated music, where the labels will no longer play such a central role, where music is a common good “like water or electricity “and where the concerts will be the cornerstone of the system.

Inventor of “Bowie bond”

In 1997, David Bowie will be the source of a new term for finance textbooks: the “Bowie bond” or Bowie obligation. The singer is negotiating with EMI a copyright license its catalog between 1969 and 1990, which ensures sufficient income to lift a 10-year bond of $ 55 million, used a coupon of 7.9%. This later inspired James Brown and Rod Stewart.

As explained in 2005 the American banker David Pullman, causing the deal, these 55 million were used by the singer to keep the rights to his music. If the debt was downgraded in 2004 to “junk” by Moody’s, David Bowie himself has kept hold of intellectual property, become key.

However, wealth Bowie is evaluated by the “Sunday Times” around 200 million euros, although it has sold 140 million discs. Ziggy Stardust was well above all an artist



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