The news of David Bowie’s death was confirmed just after we sent the bulletin out yesterday morning, with plenty of tributes to the late musician over the course of the day.
They weren’t just about Bowie’s impact on music and fashion, though: technology was prominent too.
For example, memories of a 2002 interview where he talked about the future for music, anticipating streaming: “Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity. So it’s like, just take advantage of these last few years because none of this is ever going to happen again. You’d better be prepared for doing a lot of touring because that’s really the only unique situation that’s going to be left. It’s terribly exciting.”
There was also his distribution in 1996 of digital-only release ‘Telling Lies’, which sold 300k downloads. Or his work in 1999 with developer Quantic Dream on adventure game Omnikron: The Nomad Soul.
Or his experiment in 2000 with online banking through the branded BowieBanc. But also the launch in 1998 of his ISP BowieNet, blending an online archive of photos, videos and interviews with forums and social networking features (before the heyday of social networking).
“We’re on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying,” Bowie said in 1999, anticipating a boom in user-generated content whose impact the music industry is still getting to grips with today.
“Artists like Duchamp were so prescient here – the idea that the piece of work is not finished until the audience comes to it and adds their own interpretation, and what the piece of art is about is the grey space in the middle. That grey space in the middle is what the 21st century is going to be all about.”