BowieNet Broke The Internet in 1998

Before there was Napster, there was BowieNet. And it was exactly how it sounds. David Bowie was on the forefront for more things than his funky androgynous styles and good music. He was quite the leader and took advantage of the Internet, before many of us even considered picking up a mouse and surfing the web.

Bowie launched his own online music hub on September 1, 1998--the year before Napster appeared. BowieNet was the very first music artist created Internet Service Provider. There was a monthly fee of $19.95 to use his customized version of Internet Explorer.

So what came with this monthly package?  It included news feeds with music, business, sports, and finance, exclusive access to Bowie content, custom email addresses, live chats with music artists and celebrities, and enough space for users to build custom homepages.

If that wasn't already advanced enough for its time, BowieNet also offered avatar chats, web cameras to watch live concerts, and a radio station--with Bowie as the DJ.

During the launch of his service, Bowie said, "I wanted to create an environment where not just my fans, but all music fans could be part of a single community where vast archives of music and information could be accessed, views stated, and ideas exchanged."

Of course, it was a startup that offered the best of the best. And that became the hub's downfall. It was simply too much for at-home computers to handle. Many users had trouble accessing the site and simply stopped using it.

BowieNet may no longer exist but Spotify sure does. And Bowie's music is shooting through the roof. His music has jumped 2,700 percent, putting him in the top spot on iTunes. His new album was released Friday, the same day as his birthday. Bowie died Sunday after battling cancer for 18 months.

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