The Bowie release highlights the musician’s own mythmaking, mystery, and melancholy, but it also demonstrates the ways in which viral marketing and digital distribution have permanently changed the record business. Who could have imagined the Bowie of 2003 (when he released his “Reality” album), let alone of 1983 or 1973, sneaking new material online in the wee hours of the morning?

Ben Greenman on the new song releases by David Bowie and Prince: