David Bowie, one of the most influential artists of the 1900s, with the New York Times dubbing him a 21st-century entrepreneur, knew that the music industry was about to experience an extremely transformative change. Predicting
that "copyright, for instance, will no longer exist in 10 years, and authorship and intellectual property is in for such a bashing," he wanted to secure his music, literally and figuratively, and "take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again." That's when, together with David Pullman, he came up with Bowie bonds.
It was a particularly interesting concept because it was the first asset-backed security
that was backed by his future earnings potential, giving a share in his future royalties. Issued in 1997 in partnership with Prudential Insurance Company, the 10-year bonds came with a 7.9% interest rate and attracted investors since it was a "steady long term investment."
A series of other musicians, including James Brown, Rod Stewart, and the Isley brothers
, with Pullman finding a new business for himself.
Bowie earned $55 million, and was able to buy out his music from a former manager. Soon after, just as the artist predicted, his album sales plummeted because of online streaming — in 2004, Moody's Investors Services had the bonds fall to almost "junk" status