Modern Renaissance man and billionaire global tech pioneer Elon Musk made a splash in the music publishing world on Thursday morning when he officially purchased the rights to the complete catalog of the late David Bowie. The SpaceX and Tesla CEO also took to Twitter to announce his plans to use Bowie’s music for an extraterrestrial hologram concert billed as Live on Mars?
Musk’s purchase of Bowie’s songbook follows a number of major catalog acquisitions from living artists in recent months including Bob Dylan, Neil Young, David Crosby, Stevie Nicks, producer/industry executive Jimmy Iovine, and more.
While acquisitions of legendary musicians’ catalogs have become relatively commonplace, Musk’s reasoning for the purchase seems to extend far beyond the recent investment trend.
As Elon explained in a Twitter thread, “During this recent crypto & stock boom, I was reminded of Bowie Bonds and how ahead of his time David Bowie was not just as an artist but as a businessman.”
Along with the tweet, Elon Musk shared an old video report from the Wall Street Journal about the unorthodox financial strategy developed by Bowie with banker David Pullman in 1997. Using a pioneering process for monetizing his intellectual assets, Bowie sold $55 million worth of asset-backed securities, or “Bowie Bonds,” which awarded investors a share in his future royalties for 10 years. Watch the video on “Bowie Bonds” below.
David Bowie’s Financial Innovation: Royalty-Backed Bonds
[Video: Wall Street Journal]
With Tesla making headlines for its own historic financial strategy—a $1.5 billion stake in Bitcoin (BTC)—and Space X, despite some setbacks, chipping away at its mission to send humans to Mars, Musk decided that the acquisition of the Bowie songbook would serve as both a prudent investment and an aspirational goal for his team.
In addition to using Bitcoin to make the purchase—running him a total 5177.78 Bitcoin (BTC), valued at roughly $306,000,000 at the time of the transaction—Musk made a promise to his SpaceX engineers: As he said in a subsequent tweet, “I told the team that if we can get boots on Mars by 2026, I’ll personally build the most advanced digital imaging system in history to make sure a live David Bowie hologram show is waiting there to welcome us.”
“We’re gonna call it ‘Live On Mars?’ The Starman would have loved it,” he said in a final tweet along with the image below. Live On Mars? is tentatively scheduled for 2026.