Tuesday, September 1, 1998 Published at 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK
BowieNet opens with a personal message from the Starman
By Internet Correspondent Chris Nuttall
The rock star David Bowie has undergone another of his famous changes - this time into an Internet Service Provider.
From September 1, he became the first personality to offer himself as an ISP, giving fans the chance to sign up and register e-mail addresses such as Ziggy.Stardust@davidbowie.com.
BowieNet provides Internet access with a local call in more than 2,000 North American cities, with 47 countries to be added by the end of the year. Users pay $19.95 a month or $5.95 if they already have an ISP and just want to access the site.
Apart from the usual 5mb of space and an e-mail address, BowieNet promises access to previously unreleased material, video footage and photos of the artist. There will be newsgroups, chat rooms, online shareware, multi-player gaming and personalised content updated daily with news, sport, weather, horoscopes, TV guides and thousands of album and gig reviews.
We can be heroes
"I welcome all you web travellers to the first community driven Internet site that focuses on music, film, literature, painting and more, where you can interact with all the members of our adventurous new project," says Bowie in a personal message on the home page.
The site says it will be launching a contest on September 15 which will be "a revolutionary event on the Internet".
At the end of the month, Bowie offers the usual online chat with himself, but with the added feature of a 360-degree webcam. Viewers can direct it themselves, panning around the star as he chats.
3-D chat is offered from October 15 in BowieWorld, where users can choose avatars and hold multi-dimensional conversations with one another.
"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," says the artist.
Bowie, who turned 50 last year, has proved himself as both a smart businessman and Internet innovator. He was the first major artist to post a new song for downloading over the Web - Telling Lies - and he created and designed Bowieart.com, a site featuring his artwork for direct sales to the public.