Bowie Bonds

Just to now bring the story to a close.

Bowie bonds were issued in the 90s. The machine rights – the recordings themselves – plus the song rights were up for sale. So, Bowie borrowed $70 million by issuing bonds backed by the royalty streams to make sure he bought them.

The publishing rights to David Bowie’s huge and peerless catalogue of songs have been sold by his estate to Warner Chappell Music (WCM), the publishing arm of Warner Music Group, in a deal worth at least $250m (£185m) according to anonymous sources speaking to Variety.

Note that’s just the song, or publishing, rights there. Pretty good deal, hunh?

Wonder if it includes one of the songs known to have been composed on a ukelele?

8 thoughts on “Bowie Bonds”

  1. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    So, back of fag packet, slightly better than kept pace with inflation then. Investment of the century.

  2. The Bank of England inflation calculator says that £70 million in 1997 would be £130 million now(*), so in real terms the return was just under 100% in 24 years or ~3% per annum.

    (*) Actually 2020, the latest date in the calculator.

  3. Bloke in the Fourth Reich

    Is that a good return though? And – pendantry – it’s dollars so when in the 90s and when today matters cos we need to know the exchange rate.

    There’s an old tale that the return on investment from the Manhattan purchase, allegedly for 60 Guilders in 1626, more or less matches inflation. But over that kind of time frame the _average annual_ increase in value would have been very similar if Manhattan were still farmland and forest. So long-term everything “matches” inflation within a few fractions of a percentage.

    You’d probably be happy to have had Bowie bonds in your portfolio for some period of time, but I think youd be looking for more return than that over 24 years. I would be.

  4. $250m seems like a lot of money for that. Same with Dylan, Fleetwood Mac etc. The people who grew up with this music and will sit through new documentaries and buy new box sets are now in their late 50s or older.

  5. Wikipedia says that the original Bowie Bonds were issued for $55M in 1997. That gives a compound growth rate of a shade under 6.25% over the 25 year interval. I suspect that outpaces inflation over the same period by at least a couple of percentage points, but haven’t actually gone to look at it.

  6. Okay – I couldn’t help myself…
    According the the Federal Reserve, US all-cities inflation has averaged 2.17% over the period from 1997 to Nov 2021, so the value of Bowie’s catalogue has more than kept up with inflation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *