‘hours…’ physical album released twenty years ago today

David Bowie released his 22nd studio album, ‘hours…’ on 4th October 1999 in the UK 20 years ago today. There would only be four more. The album isn’t one of his better ones but it does have its moments.

Although it was a first. The new album was the first, by a major-label artist to be released for download. There had been singles by Bowie (the 1997 drum ‘n’ bass track “Telling Lies”) and other artists but not a complete album.

The download went on sale on Tuesday September 21 at VirginRecords.com and BowieNet (the world’s first artist-created Internet service provider in 1998) but it was only available in two ‘secure’ file formats (Liquid Audio and Microsoft’s Windows Media) which contained copyright protection. No Napster style MP3’s available!

Bowie knew he was doing something new and that in truth modem’s and early broadband of the day were not up to the task but he saw a future trend…

“We are all aware that broadband opportunities are not yet available to the overwhelming majority of people, and therefore expect the success of this experiment to be measured in hundreds and not thousands of downloads. However, just as color television broadcasts and film content on home video tapes were required first steps to cause their industries to expand consumer use, 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.”