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Bond Buyers Hope All That Glitters Is Gold Bowie Selling Securities Linked To Song Royalties

Sat., Feb. 15, 1997

David Bowie, the chameleon of rock ‘n’ roll, is ch-ch-ch-changing his image once again, going to Wall Street to market bonds that will pay interest from his old song royalties.

An innovation for both the investment world and the entertainment industry, the bonds will allow the British music icon to collect $55 million up front instead of waiting for royalty checks to trickle in over many years.

The Bowie bond is tied to royalties from 25 albums, such as “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders from Mars,” that the 50-year-old rocker recorded before 1990. Current and future works are excluded.

Whoever thought investors would be enticed by esoteric bonds tied to royalties from a singer’s hits? But these albums sell more than 1 million copies annually.

Prudential Insurance Co. of America, knowing a good risk when it sees one, loosened its tie and snapped up all the bonds.

They provide Prudential with a 7.9 percent return on its investment over 10 years - an even higher return, by the way, than the 6.37 percent yield on the new 10-year Treasury note.

Bowie has opened what is envisioned as a new market for so-called asset-backed bonds, which derive value from payments on such things as mortgages or car loans. In this case, the asset is Bowie’s songs, such as “Let’s Dance,” “Changes” and “Space Oddity,” which still generate strong sales.

Bowie has amassed a $100 million fortune over three decades. His latest album, “Earthling,” was released in the United States this week and is near the top of European charts.


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