Trivia

Hard

Which Of These Music Stars Founded Their Own Internet Service Provider?

Michael Jackson
Marilyn Manson
Ringo Starr
David Bowie
David Bowie performing at Tweeter Center outside Chicago in Tinley Park,IL, USA.
Photobra (Adam Bielawski)/Wikimedia

Answer: David Bowie

If you started waxing poetic about what a visionary David Bowie was, most people would assume that you were talking about his multi-decade and multi-platinum album career. And, make no doubt about it, Bowie’s iconic career and his growth as a musician over fifty years and 27 studio albums would support that position.

But what many people don’t know about are the additional dimensions to Bowie’s visionary take on things. In the late 1990s, he launched BowieNet—a dial-up Internet Service Provider that first offered service in North America, but then extended worldwide shortly thereafter. Why launch an ISP? Bowie understood that the internet was in the process of revolutionizing the way fans connected with musicians. He wanted a way to directly interact with fans and offer them access to his music and life that touring and studio albums could never provide.

Subscribers had access to unreleased music, photographs, videos and interviews, their own BowieNet email address and, naturally, a blog all about Bowie. The service wasn’t just all Bowie, all the time, though. It also included access to music networks, live streams of concerts around the world, and downloadable content—it was one of the first places you could buy music online. Your subscription even included modest web hosting and the ability to host your own content and share your interests (David Bowie related or otherwise).

While the service eventually closed in 2006, it was a remarkably prescient undertaking by a remarkably prescient man. Nearly everything BowieNet tried to be, provide, or facilitate—linking fans with the stars they loved, downloadable music, social networks, blogging, online exclusives for fans, and so on—was continued in some fashion by other companies and is now an integral part of the modern internet experience.

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