Musical Artists Wanted: Dead or Alive?

It’s a booming spectacle all over the Internet: The infamous rapper, late Tupac Shakur, took the stage in digital form at Coachella this year to perform “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” with Snoop Dogg. While some lauded the holographic performance, many devout 2Pac fans regarded the resurrection as disrespectful and in bad taste. Amidst the controversy, it has everyone thinking the same thing: are holograms the future of past musical legends?

The possibilities are endless. Whether it is talented artists like 2Pac who passed away prematurely, or iconic artists and groups that had longer, fulfilling careers, the thought of what their posthumous shows would be like is undeniably intriguing. Although Dr. Dre, the visionary behind Makaveli’s digital return, asserts the hologram “was strictly for Coachella” and “not done for a tour,” it is difficult to believe that four months of work and a price tag of $100,000 to $400,000 would be wasted on only a debut appearance. It seems far more likely that the rest of us who missed the 2Pac hologram at Coachella will have the opportunity to see if for ourselves in some kind of future tour. Even if Dre doesn’t take the virtual Pac on tour, other artists will certainly be eager to play around with this technology and create a hologram of their own.

And to be technical, 2Pac’s hologram is not actually a hologram. It is an example of the Pepper’s ghost technique utilized by the Musion Eyeliner system.  From the audience at stage level, 2Pac appears to be 3D, but actually the illusion is created through a 2D image. His image was projected onto a piece of glass at a 45 degree angle on the ground, which reflected the projection of the image onto a customized 302 by 132 screen on the Coachella stage, giving 2Pac the three-dimensional appearance.

Almost regrettably, the opportunities for holographic performances don’t end with the departed. Bands, groups and duos that are still alive but have broken up, have a deceased member, or have retired from the industry could reunite for die-hard fans that have never given up faith. Our favorite current artists who are alive and well today could potentially harness this technology. Touring is immensely strenuous work; when artists experience personal or health related issues while touring and are forced to cancel a sold-out show at the last minute, could a hologram performance of the artist be enough to satiate fans and keep the ‘show on the road’? At a discounted price, would you pay to go to a hologram concert of your favorite musical artist in lieu of the real deal? It makes one wonder how far this technology will take us, and if society accepts it, will we be settling for smoke and mirrors in place of raw unadulterated talent.

All postulating aside, it is evident we are turning a corner in musical innovation. Do you think holograms of artists should be embraced as the future of the music industry or does the potential power of this technology threaten everything music stands for?

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