Tuesday, June 22, 2021

"The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living"

Rolling Stone piece on "The Sudden, Lucrative Gold Rush for Old Music"

Andy Green and Kory Grow note that: "catalog sales, biopics, holograms, and other media are extending the lifespan — and sometimes enormously expanding the value — of rock's classic brands."

"Some well-heeled investors are shelling out hundreds of millions of dollars for lucrative publishing catalogs; others are making use of TikTok and developing technologies like holograms; others envision deepfake software that could create “new” songs by departed artists. Industry experts say that’s just the beginning."

The retro-goldmine has deep roots - 

"Starting in the mid-Seventies, Hollywood realized the potential for rock biopics and produced films about Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley. Subsequent decades introduced tell-all memoirs, docuseries, jukebox musicals, Vegas residencies, full-album playthroughs at concerts, traveling museums, and other endeavors to hold on to consumers’ interests."

But holograms is a new frontier of necrophilia: 

“Eventually age does become a factor,” says Jeff Pezzuti, CEO and founder of Eyellusion, a company that stages classic-rock hologram tours. “How do you extend that? Does it just end? Do they just break up and they call it a day? Do they just release DVDs of the old shows? Or is there a way to actually continue that and make something cool and exciting that would cause buzz?”

"... Touring holograms of Buddy Holly, Frank Zappa, and Ronnie James Dio made respectable money before the pandemic....  ” Olivier Chastan, CEO of Iconic Artists Group — which now owns most of the Beach Boys’ intellectual property — hopes to bring the group’s California girls to the final frontier. “In five years, I could send you a text and say, ‘At 2 p.m., let’s put our Oculus Rift glasses on, and let’s go see the Beach Boys record ‘Good Vibrations’ at Western Recorders,’” he said after the acquisition. And a lawsuit Chris Cornell’s widow has filed against the late grunge superstar’s bandmates cites her interest in tours with a replacement singer, hologram concerts, and “deep-fake renditions of Chris’ vocals drawn from extant recordings by artificial intelligence that could mint brand new Soundgarden hits.”

Another one is the transplant of a new member to replace dead tissue, giving the band an extra lease of life: 

"Queen are a rare example of a band that’s managed to find a new audience on the road decades after the death of their frontman. They’ve been gigging with Adam Lambert for nearly 10 years, but it was in 2019, after the release of the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, that keyboardist Spike Edney started to notice something incredible. “People were lustily singing along to every song that was in the movie,” he told Rolling Stone in 2019, “and looking blankly during every song that wasn’t.” The movie grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide and earned Rami Malek a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury. It allowed Queen and Adam Lambert to launch their biggest tour since the Eighties, but the 

"Nowadays, [Pezzuti]'s especially eager to work with living artists on creating holograms they could use now and after death. “With living artists we would actually set up a stage of some kind, and we would actually record one show with the intention of creating holographic performances,” he says. “So basically you’d be creating a show where the artist looks like they’re there. Obviously, they’ll sound like they’re there because there will be live sound. But basically it could be in five or 10 or 15 places at once. So the idea is, the older acts could actually be out there in front of people generating revenue and quote-unquote ‘touring.'” windfall it generated went far beyond ticket sales."..

... “We were offered an AC/DC hologram of Bon Scott,” says CAA agent Christopher Dalston, referring to the band’s singer who died in 1980 (he didn’t say which hologram company approached him). “We asked ourselves, ‘Do we want to represent something with Bon Scott?’ And it just wasn’t right for us at that point. It’s a very personal thing to the groups. … You have to be careful what you do there. AC/DC is still a very current band with Brian Johnson singing.”

Biopics are relevance-reinstaters and revenue drivers: 

"There’s even talk of a new Doors movie. “The Oliver Stone one was 31 years ago,” Jampol says. “That means that everybody on planet Earth who’s 31 and under was not alive when that movie came out. That’s why we’re looking at making a new one.”

Biopics create life after death.


  1. Der Ewige Boomer.

    One other thing to consider here is what happens to those bands that don't make the cut? Who don't spark quite enough interest to render them worth hologramming. I've noticed on Youtube how certain bands that were quite big in their time are falling badly behind in the number of views they get.

    A band like The Kinks are very much on that line where they might not be worth hologramming. Roxy Music too - in fact any band that didn't make it big in the US. I can foresee a big distortion in music history occurring where a lot of bands are de facto written out because they can't generate sufficient income in the present.

  2. A friend of mine who is a fan of Queen, and also a movie buff informed me that one reason why Bohemian Rhapsody took so long to reach the big screen is that one or two members of the band thought that the script should show Freddie Mercury exit the story at the halfway point of the film, and the narrative should have built towards Queen's triumphant return from tragedy, re-affirming their global popularity with Adam Lambert as frontman.
    The film's producers took the John Deacon position (quite reasonably so) that Queen without Freddie are not really Queen, and that it might not help the film's prospects if the great rock showman was only seen in the opening half of his own biopic.

    It might sound silly or irrational, but I tend to get quite wound up when Wikipedia confirms that a band who split and then re-formed to ride the great post-2000 nostalgia wave are still going, at present, when I would argue that such bands are now their own most lucrative tribute acts.
    When it was announced a year or two ago that Tony Hadley had quit Spandau Ballet, my initial response was "he left Spandau Ballet, 30 years ago, and so did everyone else". The Tony Hadley who you saw joshing with crowds at some nostalgia festival at the end of that Spandau Ballet documentary is not the same Tony Hadley who your Mum used to think looked very dashing on TOTP back in 1983.

    1. hilarious idea of the elongated Queen biopic. would there be a 20 minute bit just on Brian May's consuming obsession with 3D Victorian stereographic photographs?