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The late rapper Tupac Shakur came back to life last weekend in a holographic performance at the Coachella music festival — and it hasn’t taken long for the music industry to realize it can cash in on the revolutionary technology that made the stunt possible. Indeed, the visual effects factory behind the hologram is now in talks with hip-hop stars Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg to take the virtual Tupac on tour, and industry executives are fantasizing about resurrecting other dead celebrities holographically.

A jokey “exclusively hologram lineup” for next year’s Coachella festival lists only deceased performers, including Michael Jackson, Buddy Holly, and Mozart. Not everyone is bullish on the trend, however. Some critics worry that it could sully the legacy of hallowed performers. Are such fears founded? When the virtual Tupac made its debut at Coachella, “the crowd became noticeably quiet… achingly aware of its strangeness,” says Max Eddy at Geekosystem. The eerie performance was disturbingly opportunistic, presenting Tupac as an empty commodity lacking all the human qualities that made him captivating. Let’s hope it ends with Tupac.

I can already see music executives’ eyes flashing with dollar signs, says Dan Reilly at Spinner. After all, the possibilities are endless. Bigwigs could recreate Woodstock in its entirety —  and charge $9.50 for beer this time. How long before this leads to a “George Lucas-like, legacy-destroying alternative to history” that tampers with legends and taints individual artists’ greatness? Let’s “keep live music for the living.”

It’s actually “a bit rich” that we’re criticizing the industry for cashing in on a dead celebrity, says Alex Macpherson at the U.K.’s Guardian. Music execs do that all the time. The hologram technology is just another way to profit off of nostalgia. Expect its use to become so popular that it will devolve from a revolutionary breakthrough into “a tired gimmick rather swiftly.”

Tupac’s hologram reflects another milestone in technology”


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