Here's a great way to make money: Hologram a beloved dead artist, debut him at one of the most popular music festivals of the year, and then send him on tour! The Benjamins, they'll just pour in.
That seems to be the logic behind the Tupac Shakur hologram that descended on Cochella over the weekend, virtually resurrecting the slain rapper to rhyme with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. Nick Smith, president of the San Diego company that projected and staged the hologram, told MTV News that holograms like Tupac 2.0 cost between $100,000 and $400,000.
"I can't say how much that event cost, but I can say it's affordable in the sense that if we had to bring entertainers around world and create concerts across the country, we could put [artists] in every venue in the country," Smith said.
Indeed. The Wall Street Journal reported today that reps for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg are planning to discuss logistics for a tour that would feature the virtual Tupac.
How would that happen? They aren't talking specifics, but Ed Ulbrich, the chief creative officer of hologram creator Digital Domain, told Business Week that Sunday's performance was "not based on archival footage" and called what happened at Cochella a "completely original, exclusive performance."
"This is just the beginning," Ulbrich told the Journal. "Dre has a massive vision for this."
And we have a vision for five other late artists who could reel in big bucks in holographic form:
If the profits of "This Is It" serve as any indication, there's still a huge appetite for the former King of Pop. The 2009 documentary about what would have been Jackson's comeback concert series made $261 million during its theatrical run, making it the highest-grossing concert movie of all time.
If there's one thing Whitney Houston's fans can agree on, it's that no one will ever sing "I Will Always Love You" like her. In the days following her Feb. 11 death, sales for Houston's music soared. According to Nielsen SoundScan, consumers purchased 101,000 copies of her albums in the week ending Feb. 12, a marked difference from the previous week, when 1,700 Houston albums were sold. Those figures soared to 250,000 albums per week in March, according to Forbes.
By now you know the story: Artist tragically dies, sales soar. Winehouse's passing last July sparked a huge uptick in album sales. Within hours of her July 23 death, "Back to Black" climbed to No. 1 on the iTunes charts in the U.S. and the U.K., and stayed there for days. Like Tupac Shakur, she had a posthumous album, "Lioness: Hidden Treasures." A holographic duet with Tony Bennett, who she collaborated with in her final days, would make some sense.
Nearly two decades after his death, the Nirvana front man remains a pop culture fascination. He's the subject of a new art exhibit at New York City's Morrison Hotel Gallery and a prominent figure in the Twitter rants of his former wife, Courtney Love. While Nirvana isn't selling like Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, or Michael Jackson, the band's 1991 album "Nevermind" has been on the Billboard 200 chart for 266 weeks, currently holding steady at No. 136.
This is a no brainer. Considering the masses who visit Graceland -- more than 600,000 each year, according to the King of Rock's official website -- there's an untapped market yearning to see the "Hound Dog" singer shake his hips again. One thing to consider: The hundreds of Elvis impersonators who'll have to file for unemployment.