The Bowie Bonds

August 23, 2006

The value of stocks will rise and fall with popularity. As a producer this plays havock on the value of your productions, and thus you use copyright to protect access and thus control, to a degree, the value of your work. With file sharing at notably high levels, contolling access is at an all time low..

Now, what if you could lease your works for a 10 year period for a fixed financial amount in exchange for a guaranteed return?

Bowie did this in 1997, a deal facilitated by Pullman, which he went on to repeat with a host of acts including James Brown. The Bowie Bonds, which basically is a royality securities deal that relies on his projected sales of his back catalogue – a fairly non-dismissive collection of hits spanning 30 years, and collects roughly £1m per year.

That was until Napster became the file sharing tool of choice for mainstream Internet use. This sudden interest in acquiring music for free had sever impact on the ability to monetize Bowie’s catelogue. Until iTunes came along. Now, with popular business theories such as The Long Tail in circulation showing content owners a way forward in online sales and asset management, the Bowie Bonds seem like a real no-brainer.

Why should an artist have to constantly worry about piracy when he can sell the risk to someone else?

Of course, producers can worry about how the assets are exploited, but why would any owner of the rights try to sabotage their value? Meanwhile the artists is off producing new works..

This article was first published on openbusiness.cc
The Bowie Bonds article is part of wider research available here.
Photograph courtesy of RazingCulture.

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