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BowieNet could be sitting on virtual velvet goldmine

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David Bowie has unveiled his own branded Internet access service in the UK just three months after launching a similar initiative in the US. BowieNet (www.davidbowie.com) -- the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) created by a rock musician -- provides the same dial-up service as traditional ISPs, but also includes unprecedented access to Bowie material including songs, pictures and videos. The service is also planning to broadcast a number of original cybercasts featuring Bowie and his celebrity friends. As well as taking part in a chat session next week, Bowie has also persuaded Ronan Keating, lead singer with Boyzone, and comedian Eddie Izzard to take part in a scheduled online chat session next month. The venture is more than just an official home page with a few extra bells and whistles. Bowie has entered cyberspace as content provider, lifestyle guru and media mogul all rolled into one. "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," he said. Such is Bowie's commitment to the Net, he's also planning to produce the first Virtual CD in music history entitled liveandwell.com. BowieNet subscribers will be given three songs recorded live during his 1997 "Earthling Tour" and asked for their contributions for the album cover artwork and a 48-page insert. "Our biggest challenge was to assemble unique proprietary content along with first rate content suppliers and unparalleled Internet access," said Bowie's business manager, Bill Zysblat commenting on the launch. UK ISP Global Internet is providing the technology service for BowieNet and Lycos UK is supplying general content. The cost of the full ISP service is £10.39 a month and includes a davidbowie.co.uk email address and 20MB of space to create individual homepages. Anyone happy with their existing ISP can still access BowieNet content for around £3.75 a month. ®

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