Has your favorite musician died? Stick around long enough and he or she will surely make an appearance again via hologram. At the rate things are going, and for the right "appearance" fee of course, you may eventually invite your own hologram Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer to perform at your wedding or other private event.
The "virtual performance" business kicked off in April when Dr. Dre debuted a hologram of Tupac Shakur on-stage at Coachella. As Entertainment Weekly notes, that was followed by plans to resurrect Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes for live shows and the re-creation of Elvis for a concert series.
It also got the Jackson family talking about whether they should bring Michael back on the road — after all, he's already on the comeback trail with Pepsi this summer as part of its (ironically) "Live For Now" marketing campaign.
"This is a new and exciting way to bring the magic and music of Elvis to life," a spokesperson for Elvis Presley Enterprises commented to the BBC. "His lifelong fans will be thrilled all over again and new audiences will discover the electric experience of Elvis the performer."
“This is not repurposing old footage that the world has already seen,” said Ed Ulbrich, creative director of Digital Domain Media Group, to Billboard. ”We’re making totally original and exclusive performances so that fans can have new experiences.”
Digital Domain is the James Cameron co-founded visual effects (VFX) firm behind the Tupac hologram, which will be launching its virtual performance business (which it calls "the holy grail of VFX") with Elvis. According to its recent presentation to investors, the Tupac event at Coachella "generated huge results":
- 15 million views of the live performance on YouTube in the first 48 hours
- Over 59 million search results for ‘Tupac hologram’ on Google in two weeks
- Tupac album sales increased more than 500% in a week
- Shakur's Greatest Hits album made the Billboard 200 for the first time in 12 years
- 1,000% gain in downloads of his song ‘Hail Mary’ in a week
- 500% increase in visits to the Tupac website.
So expect more virtual performances, including the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, and Marilyn Monroe, coming soon to an entertainment venue near you. The plus side from a business perspective: No drug-addicted celebrities and their entourages (and managers) to deal with! No outrageous tour rider demands! Punctual stars who perform on demand, at the flip of a switch!
Jeff Jampol is one dead celeb manager who stands to do well if this whole hologram thing really takes off. He manages the Doors as well as the estates of Morrison, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Peter Tosh and Rick James.
"We're trying to get to a point where 3-D characters will walk around," Jampol told Billboard. "Hopefully, 'Jim Morrison' will be able to walk right up to you, look you in the eye, sing right at you and then turn around and walk away." One does wonder if the world really needs another Jim Morrison actually walking around.
If Jampol has his way, he’ll “create a multimedia experience featuring the band” in “either a tent or a freestanding building, with the walls pixilated like a large TV screen and utilizing lasers, lights, high-quality sound, vibrations, projected imagery and the 3-D figures,” Billboard adds.
Sounds like those Pink Floyd laser shows are about to get a lot trippier, dude.