Major Tom floats on stock market high

David Bowie is planning to mark his 50th birthday in January by allowing members of the public to invest in him.

The scheme involves raising around pounds 50m on Wall Street through the first issue of bonds linked to the artist's royalties.

Though members of the public have for many years invested in shows in London and on Broadway, it would be a radical departure to allow investment in the earnings of an individual rock singer.

In the case of Bowie, the plan is that investors will take a share of the royalties from the artist's catalogue. Bowie's recent ventures have been experimental, with his passion for the Internet a key aspect. And his sales in the Nineties have been unpredictable.

However the bond scheme would also give investors a cut of future earnings from the singer's back catalogue, which still sells around a million records a year. It includes classic albums from the Seventies such as Ziggy Stardust, Hunky Dory and Aladdin Sane, the Eighties chart-topper Let's Dance and various "greatest hits" packages.

Bowie's business management firm, the Rascoff Zysblat Organisation in New York, has retained a New York investment bank, Gruntal and Co, to look into the idea.

Gruntal's managing director, David Pulman, told the music industry journal Music Week that such an offer would be an attractive low-risk investment because of the potential value of the back catalogue, which has not been actively marketed since 1993. Music Week confirmed that raising investment on an artist's future earnings would be a first for the music business.

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