Why David Bowie Was More Than A Brilliant Artist
David Bowie’s death last year marked the loss of one of the music industry’s most talented, recognisable and ground-breaking artists. Bowie’s unique talent was, and will remain, impossible to replicate.
David Bowie was a multi-faceted artist in every sense. A singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, arranger, painter and actor, he recorded over 30 albums during a career that spanned five decades. But it was his talent as an innovator, for breaking new ground with his music and his visual appearance, that set him apart from other performers.
Bowie’s style and frequent re-invention changed the way that both fans and fellow artists perceived popular music. Reviewer Brad Filicky described him as:
“…a musical chameleon, changing and dictating trends as much as he has altered his style to fit, influencing fashion and pop culture.”
But what is not so widely known is that David Bowie was far more than a brilliant artist.
Bowie was a pioneer of downloadable music who, as a lover of digital technology, had a vision of all music one day being available exclusively via the internet. In September 1998, before the rise of social media, iTunes and Spotify, he launched his internet service BowieNet, which offered unique online musical content, as well as the ability to connect directly with the artist himself. BowieNet was also used to create what became known as the world’s first ‘cyber-song’, when fans were invited to co-write a track by submitting lyrics, resulting in over 80,000 responses.
In 1999, Bowie pulled off another cyber-coup by becoming the first major-label artist to release a complete album online in downloadable form. In a statement about the release of hours, the musician said:
“I couldn’t be more pleased to have the opportunity of moving the music industry closer to the process of making digital downloads available as the norm and not the exception.”
But he was ahead of his time and aware that the growth of his service was held back by limited broadband infrastructure. Bowie addressed this, saying:
“We are all aware that broadband opportunities are not yet available to the overwhelming majority of people, and therefore expect the success of this experiment to be measured in hundreds and not thousands of downloads. However, just as color television broadcasts and film content on home video tapes were required first steps to cause their industries to expand consumer use, I am hopeful that this small step will lead to larger leaps by myself and others ultimately giving consumers greater choices and easier access to the music they enjoy.”
There is no doubt that today’s music lovers, artists, and the music industry itself, all owe a great deal to David Bowie’s enormous talent and vision. The man who fell to earth may have returned the way he came, but he has left a lasting impression on us all.
Thank you for everything David.
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