Past Music Icons Perform Again

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How Technology in The Music Industry Has Gone Too Far

By Lindsey Clinton, Co-Editor-In-Chief

Once an icon of the century; forever, they stay immoral. No longer can we celebrate and commemorate their talents and legacy because we have forced their concerts to live on. The face of music has altered completely as we continue to advance with technology. But is this really where we should be spending our time and knowledge? Should the existence of music be met with this drastic change?

The mechanics behind Pepper’s Ghost.

From one of our most influential rap artists to the biggest superstar of the 80’s, we have been able to see performances from people who have passed with the use of a hologram. Ideas derived from a 200 year old parlor’s trick called Pepper’s Ghost, hologram concerts have become the newest addition to the world of music. The Pepper’s Ghost technique uses a “reflective pane of glass that is angled towards a booth” below a stage as a way to project an image of actors with a “ghostly translucent quality.” (Interesting Engineering How It Works) In order to make these virtual incarnations of artists tour-able, technology drastically improved, now incorporating the original idea of the Pepper’s Ghost into a three-dimensional holographic projection of dead performers. Although these performing techniques have been around for hundreds of years, the way in which we have developed them furthers the idea that with time, our society can and will do anything they can think of. But is this necessarily beneficial to our music industry or have we already gone too far? 

Music is an art form. It is a way of self-expression through notes, melodies, lyrics, and styles. Music is something that is personal and shared with others to portray their ideas and feelings. Holographic concerts take away every piece of meaning behind a performance and what the performer intended. This new way of presenting music diminishes the importance of social interactions that artists hold with their audiences. In a live performance of any kind, the performer will feed off of an audience and their reactions, changing their own emotion, emphasis of certain words, and sometimes even the order of a set list. (34th Street Why Holographic Concerts Shouldn’t Be Made) But now with holographic concerts, these in the moment changes in a performance cannot and will not happen. A programmed 3 dimensional video of a deceased artist does not hold a candle to the real impact of a live performance. We have gone too far with advancements made in the music industry, as now it is a place of synthetic performance as opposed to true musicianship and artwork.

Not only does the option of a holographic concert remove the “organic and soulful connection” that occurs between an artist and audience, but it also overlooks the fact that these performers were real people. (CNN Convince Me Celebrity Holograms Aren’t The Worst Idea) Yes it is clear to see that the invention of a concert projected onto a stage is an absurd advancement for the music industry, but it also begins to cross an ethical line that we should not pass. One may assume that big time musicians like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Tupac would be intrigued by the thought of performing on stage once again. But this is just an assumption. We have begun to use advanced technology to put artists who have passed in front of a live audience without their knowledge. This strips away any personal choice that an artist could have. There is no way of truly knowing whether they would be for or against the idea of having an illusion of themselves performing a holographic concert in front of an audience. But this is not the only idea as to how an ethical line is being crossed. We must also understand that now our music industry is profiting off of the success of the deceased. It is no secret that many are infatuated with musical icons of past decades that still hold influence on today’s music. This is why the music industry is capable of increasing their profits, because they know that shows of Whitney Houston will forever sell out. As our technology continues to improve and become more refined, we will cross an ethical line that has to do with the living and the dead. This has gone too far, as now it affects artists, audiences, and the industry.

“Music knows it is and always will be one of the things life just won’t quit.”

Stevie Wonder

We know that as technology advances, so will life’s constants, much like our music industry, but with this comes the understanding of when it has gone too far, and holographic concerts are just that. What once started with a parlor’s trick has snowballed into the projection of dead icons performing on stage yet again. Now we cannot celebrate their legacy and instead watch their hologram float across the stage. Not only has this changed the face of performing but it as well encounters the question of using the faces of popular deceased stars to gain profit. My own bias aside, it is clear to see that we have taken the liberty of advancing technology in the music industry too far.