Inside David Bowie's evolving catalogue campaign as official documentary makes box office impact

Inside David Bowie's evolving catalogue campaign as official documentary makes box office impact

David Bowie documentary Moonage Daydream has made a box office impact.

Directed by Brett Morgen, the film is the first to be given full approval and access by the David Bowie Estate. BMG and Live Nation co-produced the documentary, while both Warner Music and Sony Music licensed catalogue.

According to the UK & Ireland box office figures for the weekend, when it opened widely at cinemas, Moonage Daydream grossed £375,399 and made the Top 5. With the previous week’s box office takings from Imax screens, the film has now taken £676,185 in total.

It’s good news for catalogue label Rhino, which has already established David Bowie as a streaming star (16.2 million monthly Spotify listeners) and made him the No.1 artist for vinyl sales.

The latest Bowie partnership is a campaign with YouTube Shorts featuring classic footage to mark the release of the documentary. It is the first time Bowie’s catalogue has been made available on YouTube Shorts

The Rhino team is also masterminding a campaign for a Moonage Daydream companion album. The release features songs spanning Bowie’s career and includes previously unheard material, unique mixes created for the film and this release, along with dialogue from David Bowie himself. It is available digitally and a CD will be available on November 18, followed by a vinyl edition in 2023.

Parlophone Records has today announced David Bowie: Divine Symmetry, a four-CD, one Blu-ray box set and digital equivalent release (out November 25). The collection celebrates the 12 months leading up to the release of the album Hunky Dory in December 1971 via home demos, BBC radio sessions, and live and studio recordings. The vinyl edition will be released on February 24, 2023.

It follows landmark releases in the past year including the Brilliant Adventure box set, lost album Toy and the 50th anniversary editions of The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders Of Mars. 

Music Week’s Moonage Daydream feature made headlines with major media outlets picking up our interview with Warner Chappell CEO and co-chair Guy Moot on plans for David Bowie’s songwriting catalogue. We also published a rare interview with the music icon’s longtime publicist Alan Edwards.

The next big step will be the recorded music catalogue coming together under Warner Music in 2023. Here, Tom Gallacher, senior director, digital & marketing at Rhino UK, reveals the scale of their catalogue ambitions…

How will Rhino be working Bowie's catalogue around this cinema release? 

“We’ve seen significant lifts in the catalogue of other artists around the release of new documentaries, such as the Biggie doc on Netflix and Tina on Sky/HBO, and we expect this trend to continue with Moonage Daydream, particularly given the quality of the film, the subject matter and the scale of the release. Digital opportunities are obvious and immediate as fans that watch the film then seek out the tracks on streaming platforms. But our job is to use the buzz around the film to make sure that even people who don’t make it to the cinema are thinking about Bowie and exploring his catalogue. This will be done through a mixture of social content, joint marketing with the film company and partnerships with DSPs. 

“The Bowie catalogue is one of our strongest physical performers - as you flagged earlier this year, he’s the top selling vinyl artist this century in the UK. So we will be working with our commercial team and retail partners on ways we can boost sales around this event.”

Are there opportunities to reach new Bowie fans around the documentary - how can you direct cinema goers to DSPs?

“We see the film being an important cultural moment, which will have appeal beyond the existing fanbase and introduce this amazing catalogue to new listeners. The joy of tools like Shazam is that they aid discovery and the jump from seeing something on screen - at cinema or at home - to searching for something on your phone is a lot easier than it used to be. We have been discussing with DSPs on how we work together around the release to support the campaign.”

The film utilises IMAX 12.0 audio and Dolby Atmos - are you making any plans for more Bowie releases in HD audio/Atmos formats? 

“We’ve just released a Tony Visconti Dolby Atmos mix of Space Oddity, which was already available in Sony 360 Reality Audio, and Sony have released a number of other albums from the latter part of David’s career in Sony 360 Reality Audio. In conjunction with the estate, we are always looking at what possible opportunities might be out there for the catalogue, including in spatial environments.”

How is the catalogue campaign progressing - how successful was the Ziggy Stardust anniversary release? 

“We were very pleased with the Ziggy campaign [UK vinyl sales of the classic LP on vinyl are 11,417 so far in 2022, according to the Official Charts Company]. Streams of the album are up 30% worldwide following the anniversary due to the way that we were able to engage with DSPs around the date. With Spotify we delivered a new commentary by the album’s co-producer Ken Scott on the album via their Music & Talk function, which resulted in on-platform profile plus an out-of-home billboard in Leicester Square. We’ve also worked on an exciting campaign with Amazon [‘Ziggy’ became only the fifth wake word for Echo devices].”

We’re very excited by the thought of uniting the post-2000 albums with the catalogue we already control and working on career-spanning campaigns

Tom Gallacher

Will the London pop-up store continue this year?

“The pop-up was something that was organised by the Bowie Estate but which we were involved in supporting. It was always planned as a one-off event around Bowie’s 75th birthday, so I don’t believe there are any plans to bring it back. But they were very happy with the way it went and the buzz it generated.”

What's the next step of the reissue campaign?

“We are now obviously into the cycle of 50th anniversaries, so all of these key albums will be celebrated in various ways. The beauty of working on such an amazing and extensive catalogue is that there are always key dates to be marked. So the Bowie team are always working on the best ways to make sure that everything gets its moment but that the catalogue is managed in a respectful way.”

How are you preparing for the post-2000 catalogue coming over to Warner in 2023? 

“We’re very excited by the thought of uniting the post-2000 albums with the catalogue we already control and working on career-spanning campaigns. There is always lots going on with Bowie, so I’m sure that the team will work with the estate and find the right place for the right campaign at the right time.”

Subscribers can click here to read our Moonage Daydream feature.

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