David Bowie the Iconoclast

David Bowie the Iconoclast. The world was saddened last week by the passing of an iconic musical pioneer, who taught generations the power of drama and constantly morphing personas within the musical arena. David Bowie was an infinitely changeable, creative and innovative genius that affected my life and the lives of many. As a young kid, entranced by the Apollo moon landing, Bowie’s breakthrough song Space Oddity had a big impact upon stargazing younger me. So much so, that it brought tears to my eyes when my seven year old son sung and played it on the piano for me at a mini-concert on my last birthday (he reprised it for my wife and I the day David Bowie died – more tears). I was fortunate enough to meet and sit down with David Bowie back in 1995 through my work with MuchMusic. I will always remember how he was so adept at doling out praise for his collaborators and how humbly he discussed the power of surrounding yourself with exceptionally talented people – no wonder he earned indelible admiration and emulation across the musical spectrum.

His ground-breaking, ahead-of-the-curve genius extended well beyond the creation of musical hits. It showed up in his financial innovation when he created ‘Bowie Bonds’ in 1997, using securitization to monetize his work while retaining control over the intellectual property – in this step, he foresaw the absolute transformation of the music industry. He further pushed boundaries by being one of the first artists to offer a download of his music back in 1999, with Virgin trail-blazer Richard Branson saying: “I am hopeful that this small step will lead to larger leaps by myself and others ultimately giving consumers greater choices and easier access to the music they enjoy. This can only be of benefit to the consumer.”

Bowie’s ability to look into the ether and connect the dots matched with his innovative spirit became the launch pad for a St. Joseph trend report and event we developed a few years back entitled Creativity Begins with Imagination – where we gave our guests access to the internationally acclaimed David Bowie exhibit at the AGO. It was fitting for our client base, as Bowie connected emotionally with so many, built a massive audience through art and communication, and exemplified what countless brands strive to become. Clearly, no brand can be Bowie. That said, brands should study his transformations, his agile nature, how he created value for his fans, and how being authentic, imaginative and unique (above all else) generated much more than listeners – it created loyal followers.

Brands spend a lot of time waxing on about building true fans, but not many have the real chops it takes to think sideways, break with standards, and deliver something truly worthy of following.

Turn and face the strange – ch-ch-changes – oh look out you rock and rollers, pretty soon you’re going to get older…


Michael Chase, CMO
St. Joseph Communications



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Posted on January 19, 2016 in Entertainement, Marketing, Trends

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About the Author

Michael Chase - a true hybrid – part strategist, part data monkey, part creative director, part global growth hacker (when you're doing bic pen tracheotomies you still have to think of EBITDA) and through and through an innovator.

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  1. Aly Chiman
    February 8, 2019 at 5:10 am · Reply

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