Pop music holograms: controversial or transformational?

10 September 2015

MJ hologram/shadow

Music experts in Cardiff for international conference on pop industry’s future

The ethical implications of ‘resurrecting’ deceased musicians through holograms will be among the topics up for discussion today (10 Sept) as an international conference on the future of pop music comes to Cardiff University.

The International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM)’s flagship Popular Music Futures conference will look at issues including the increasing use of holograms in popular music performance, which allows deceased and non-existent performers to ‘perform’ to fans in live settings.

Holograms have recently been created for stars who have been among the highest posthumous earners in popular music history, including Elvis, Tupac and Michael Jackson, but the conference will look at the ethical dilemmas and implications arising from their use.

Hosted by the University’s School of Music across two days, the conference will see more than thirty presentations by researchers from universities as far afield as Munich and Helsinki, on topics including ‘Age and Autotune’, ‘YouTube and the Future of the Record Industry’ and ‘The Future of Pop Songwriting’.

Among the presenters will be musicians including Damon Minchella, former bass guitarist for Ocean Colour Scene, and Chanan Hanspal, a guitarist who has performed with artists including Kylie Minogue and Jamiroquai.

A session on music policy-making will also be presented by Cardiff University post-graduate researcher Samuel Murray. Samuel’s presentation, entitled Bills, Bills, Bills will look at the US context - including initiatives such as Portland’s annual $35 tax to fund school arts programmes – and consider whether similar policies could work within a UK government framework.

A roundtable session on the future of popular music will also take place. Chaired by Dr Joe O’Connell from Cardiff University, it will see bring Welsh musicians together with Deputy Leader of the Green Party, Amelia Womack, and National Assembly Member, Eluned Parrott AM.

Alicia Stark, post-graduate researcher from Cardiff University’s School of Music, who’ll present her paper on holograms in popular performances, said: “This event will take a really holistic view on the future of popular music, looking at issues including the hologram phenomenon and its sudden rise in popularity. This is just one issue facing popular music that raises questions on authority, ownership, and authorship in terms of the personas, memories and estates of prominent, influential musicians.

“What are the ethical dilemmas and responsibilities of recreating the image and performances of celebrities who are deceased, who should be allowed to make such decisions and who should receive the profits?”

Sam Murray, post-graduate representative for the IASPM and a researcher in the University’s School of Music, added: “From the beginning of this century technology has developed at a fast pace with music becoming digital, new instruments and sounds being developed, and concerts going above and beyond showmanship, throwing everything from synchronised light-up wristbands to holograms.

“The International Association for the Study of Popular Music has challenged its postgraduate membership, who are themselves the future of popular music studies as an academic discipline, to look into the future and predict what's next. This is one of the first conferences to look into the popular music crystal ball and with the endless possibilities of technology and human creativity the ideas of tomorrow could be found today.”

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