David Bowie becomes Internet entrepreneur
July 13, 1998
by Nancy Weil
(IDG) -- Rock star David Bowie, who has used the Internet to hawk lithographs and to debut a previously unreleased song, is poised to put himself under pressure as he enters a new aspect of his career -- Internet service provider.
His Internet service, to be called BowieNet, is expected to launch in late August or early September in North America, with unlimited access prices set at $19.95 a month.
Nettmedia, Inc., a New York-based World Wide Web developer, hasn't formally released news about BowieNet, but the word spread when www.davidbowie.com was transformed into an ad for the Internet service.
"It has been my wish to integrate the power of the Internet and bring it down to a very personal level," Bowie said in a written statement on the Web site. "With ... BowieNet, you can join me in an online, community-based environment for all music fans where you can experience the Internet as never before."
Bowie contacted Lane Dunlop, president of Nettmedia, to get the service under way. Dunlop said the partnership has given him a crash course on the 51-year-old rocker's varied career, which spans 30 years. "I've gotten calls from people I haven't talked to in years," Dunlop said. "I think my mom is even excited about it."
He added that Bowie is actively involved in the venture. "He's on the ball. He's got a lot of ideas," Dunlop said.
The service will feature original content and is strongly focused on music. "It's not just about David Bowie," Dunlop said. "It's about the music."
Subscribers will find unreleased tunes, and the musician known as the "Ziggy Stardust" and "Thin White Duke" also plans to set up what might be called a "Bowiecam," with cameras in the studio so that subscribers can watch him at work. Bowie, whose artwork and writings have earned critics' and fans' praise, also will participate in chats with subscribers.
Concentric Network Corp., in Cupertino, Calif., will be the service's backbone provider.
In one ironic note, Dunlop pointed out that although the service is called BowieNet, its URL is "davidbowie.com". Pointing a Web browser to "bowienet" on the Internet will take you to "Bill Bowie's Harness Racing Home Page."
"A lot of people have wound up accidentally there in the last few days," Dunlop said, "so I bet their hits have gone up considerably."
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