This is Ground Control to Major Tom

by Marilou Moursund on January 12, 2016

in Tribute

David Bowie just passed away at the age of 69 after battling cancer for eighteen months.  Two of my favorite songs are his collaborations with Queen on “Under Pressure” and with Bing Crosby on “The Little Drummer Boy”.  While I love his work as a musician and actor, I didn’t know that he was a pioneer in the world of finance.  This New York Times article titled “How David Bowie Changed Wall Street” describes how Bowie securitized recordings and copyrights to float a bond issue.  From the linked article:

In 1997, Mr. Bowie bundled up nearly 300 of his existing recordings and copyrights into a $55 million security that paid the buyer — Prudential Insurance Company of America — a 7.9 percent annual rate over 10 years, backed by the income from his royalties and record sales, and the licensing of his songs for films or other uses.

The so-called Bowie bonds were among the first in what would become a wave of esoteric asset-backed securities deals based on intellectual property, including a more recent one involving Miramax’s film library (including titles like “Pulp Fiction” and “The English Patient”). Bankers have also come up with securities backed by franchise revenue for the restaurant chains Sonic and Church’s Chicken, among others.

“This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I’m stepping through the door
And I’m floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today
For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there’s nothing I can do”

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