The appearance of a Tupac Shakur hologram at the Coachella music festival during a performance with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre got an amazing range of reactions on the web. For some it was yet another aesthetic apocalypse, for others a moment of awe-inspring beauty. Since that apparition, Holopac returned for another performance at Coachella and we discovered that he wasn't a hologram after all, that the company that got a big stock price boost was only partially responsible and that those tour rumors are all wrong unless, at a later date, they turn out to be correct. Given that responses initially ran wild, we can now safely take a closer look at the business view of the Tupac Hologram.
The Tupac Hologram, the term I will continue to use despite its total inaccuracy, appeared during an evening with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg on April 15 at the Coachella music festival. It returned for round two on the 22nd. During the week between show dates, the Twitter response alone covered an incredible range from praise to condemnation, from jokes to brainstorms, from art thoughts to money talk. And, of course, an unofficial Hologram Tupac Twitter account soon appeared gaining over 30,000 followers.
Tupac Hologram, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at Coachella 2012
Having missed the livestream, I caught the appearance of the man some call HoloPac via a YouTube video like the one embedded above. And, as it scrolled down his ripply chest and across his exposed underwear I thought, "that would be a great spot for a product placement." Such is the mind of a music industry blogger.
But I wasn't alone in seeing money in motion as I watched HoloPac at work. The potential of such imagery in live concert led many to speculate about arena tours. Ethan Smith, writing for The Wall St. Journal, quickly jumped on statements from a "person familiar with the discussions" of Dre and Snoop "representatives" claiming that a tour was under consideration:
"One option would be a tour in stadiums, involving other hip-hop stars, including Eminem, 50 Cent and Wiz Khalifa. Alternately, they could stage a more limited tour, featuring only Dre, Snoop Dogg and the virtual Tupac, in smaller arenas."
Nas stated that "as times goes on, it can be done in a way where everyone's happy -- where it's not just creepy." And T.I. brainstormed the idea that "'if I could get this same technology to perform in three cities at one time, then that's another stream of revenue!' I could do six shows a night in six different places."
However, Dr. Dre has clarified that HoloPac was not created with a larger tour in mind though he did not rule out the possiblity of future projects, stating with arm-flailing authority, "we'll see." Speculation about future possibilities met with cautious approval from some industry old timers.
Digital Domain (DDMG) Stock Price for Week of April 16 to 20
As was quickly noted after the first performance the Tupac Hologram was not a hologram at all but rather an image created by Digital Domain and projected by AV Concepts. Confusion about the nature of the illusion can be traced not only to early leaks but also to the press releases of Digital Domain and of AV Concepts.
But, given that most people don't know what a hologram is anyway and that it all got sorted out rather quickly, that sleight of hand is not that serious a business issue. However, hype created in part by excited stock analysts led to a week-long rise in DDMG's stock price as illustrated above.
DDMG's high for the week was around 8.00 while their 52 week high was 8.60. Closing yesterday at 6.72, it seems likely that this may be a short run for a company that has a history of such moments with various concerns now being raised by analysts. Considering the fact that not only AV Concepts was involved but that they were using projection equipment created by Musion, the estimated price tag of a few hundred thousand dollars appears headed for multiple pockets.
Nevertheless, Afeni Shakur's cosign, Jay-Z's willingness to monetize his first child and Diddy being Diddy raises the possiblity of a peaceful reunion of Tupac and Biggie Smalls who once had positive relations. In addition, Dr. Dre mentioned in passing his hope that such artists as Jimi Hendrix and Marvin Gaye might make a reappearance.
While such a prospect is disturbing to some, the audience for reanimated dead performers is potentially huge. Given the availability of the technology and the inflated financial needs of many who survive big stars, the prospect of massive amounts of money being made may soon bring a multitude of performers back from the dead.
Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith blogs about business at Flux Research: Business & Revenue Models and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.