The digital era has brought on sweeping changes across many industries – and the entertainment sector is no stranger to them. From iTunes to Netflix, a strong online presence is an essential part of making art and providing entertainment in the 21st century. And as technology rapidly evolves, it seems that significant developments are still ahead. Holograms of our favorite artists are making their way on festival stages in the past couple of years – could this be the trend of the future?

The future of entertainment is digital – and so is its present

Offering content online seems to be the name of the game for the entertainment industry as a whole. As millions of people already know, the Metropolitan Opera in New York offers an on-demand service for streaming an impressive catalogue of its most famous performances. With the rise of the mobile device market, the Met was also quick to add apps across devices ranging across Amazon Fire TV and Tablet, Apple’s flagship iPad or iPhone, and Samsung Smart TV. This is on top of the live streaming of selected performances across the world.

In other niche markets, going digital is an all-encompassing experience: instead of trying their luck at brick-and-mortar casinos, enthusiasts can now play at online casinos from the likes of Betway which include iconic and popular slot titles and tabletop classics. There are even rumors of studios developing virtual reality and augmented reality slot games to add to the fun. VR is already harnessed by the traditional video gaming industry, with console developers even developing their own headsets – like the popular PlayStation VR that boasts of immersive 120fps visuals.

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The pioneers of holographic performances

Virtual reality is the perfect combination of technology and illusion – and what sector would be more open to embracing it than the entertainment industry, which has long relied on the art of illusion to provide an awe-inspiring experience? From animation to special effects, entertainment is based on illusion, but it seems that the sector is ready to take the next big step.

Imagine if you could see your music idols return from the dead for another great performance at popular festivals like Coachella. This is no longer just a dream, thanks to the work of dedicated developers who are committed to bringing favorite stars such as Michael Jackson or Amy Winehouse back to life for one more performance. Recently, BASE Hologram announced the return of two true legends: the holograms of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison were to team up for a series of concerts aptly titled The Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream Tour.

A couple of years ago, we also heard the news that Notorious B.I.G. would follow in the footsteps of fellow rapper 2Pac Shakur, and return for a live appearance as a hologram. The King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson, appeared posthumously at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards, treating fans to his famous moonwalk, but the vision of a concert/Broadway show featuring the hologram of Amy Winehouse was cut short due to licensing issues.

Will hologram concerts take off?

The unusual sight of a hologram performing live in lieu of the artist was treated with skepticism by some, while others worried about its impact towards an increasingly digitized world. In fact, in a 2018 survey reported by Statista, a whopping 36% across 3,171 participants stated they would not be at all interested in seeing a hologram perform, while 20% would be somewhat interested and 10% would be very interested. And yet it seems that there is no stopping what the music industry is undoubtedly perceiving as an integral part of how its future will look like.

The market for holographic displays is set to climb to over $3.5 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of more than 30% – and this is up from $567 million back in 2013. Interestingly, the demand for holograms at events is a big drive behind this expected growth. As we are getting used to VR and AR applications in the aftermath of the amazing success of multiple mobile and video games, it seems that people are more and more willing to give a chance to seeing holographic gigs of famous musicians. And it is pretty easy to imagine that if the Statista survey asked only avid music enthusiasts, the percentages reported might differ vastly.

Who would not jump at the opportunity to see a live performance by the Beatles or Elvis Presley? Just imagine if you could feel like you were there that summer in Woodstock!

Even if holograms might seem somewhat strange now, they are set to play an increasingly important role within the live music industry, especially for fans eager to see their long-gone idols give one last posthumous gig. The intimacy and vibrancy of a ‘live’ performance is second to none – even if we are fully aware of the illusion behind it.