Possible Hologram Tours Present Big Opportunity For Live Nation And Madison Square Garden

Includes: DDMGQ, LYV, MSG
by: Chris Katje

In a recent article, I brought Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG) back into the spotlight based on their involvement in the viral Tupac hologram. The company is one of several behind the Tupac hologram image that became an internet sensation. The image of Tupac seen by thousands of attendees at the Coachella Music Festival is likely only the beginning.

Many websites have began coming up with ideas of which images should be resurrected first. Former pop group TLC took it one step further by announcing they will be launching a full tour with a hologram image of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes.

Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes was killed in a car crash in Honduras ten years ago this year. To commemorate the ten year anniversary, remaining members Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas have announced a tour. It is unclear who will be making the image of "Left Eye" for the tour. As a Digital Domain shareholder, I am hoping they will have a hand in creating the image.

TLC, who released four studio albums, sold over fifty million records worldwide. The R&B trio won four Grammys and had four multiplatinum albums released during their time together. Their second album CrazySexyCool sold an amazing twenty two million copies throughout the world. The groups "Fanmail" tour saw sold out performances around the world. A pay per view special of the tour was at the time the highest grossing pay per view event. The tour grossed $72.8 million, which was the highest for a female group at the time.

After Left Eye's death, the group decided to retire than replace their third member. The remaining members did perform several times by using images of Lopes. The band released a music video for "Girl Talk", which featured an animated version of Lopes with the surviving members. A performance at a 2003 concert saw the duo perform with a large video image of Lopes wearing the same clothes and doing the same songs.

Back in April, the remaining members of the Jackson 5 announced a twenty seven city tour for the first time since 1984. The tour sparked rumors of the creation of a Michael Jackson hologram image. Referring to the possibility of a Michael Jackson image, Jackson brother Jackie had this to say, "It could have Michael-absolutely, Wouldn't that be wonderful? As a matter of fact, we had that idea two years ago for Michael's Cirque du Soleil show."

To me as an investor, the TLC tour and possibility of other deceased musicians brings two additional companies into the spotlight: Live Nation (NYSE:LYV) and Madison Square Garden (NASDAQ:MSG).

Live Nation, through a recent merger, owns Ticketmaster, the leading concert ticketing website. The ownership of this brand alone should have the company and shareholders eager for more hologram tours. Over twenty six million people visit ticketmaster.com each month, making the site the leader in event ticketing. Over 20,000 shows each year are produced by Live Nation. The company will not live and die by the potential of bands utilizing new images of deceased musicians, but the possibility of bands like The Beatles, Queen, Nirvana, The Who, and Wu-Tang Clan has to excite investors for future profits in Live Nation.

Live Nation also owns and does the booking for over 70 venues around the World. The company also owns the House of Blues brand and venues.

Along with the TLC and potential hologram tours, shareholders should be excited for the Madonna tour launching this year around the world. Madonna's tour will be produced by Live Nation and is expecting to continue selling out additional shows added. Tours from Rush, Van Halen, Kiss, and Aerosmith will help the company continue to be the leader in music ticketing. Live Nation's Ticketmaster also signed an extension with the National Football League for its ticket exchanging program.

In February, Live Nation launched a joint partnership with Creativeman Production to form Live Nation Japan. The new joint partnership kicks off May 10th with a Lady Gaga concert in Tokyo. Perhaps this new joint venture could lead to Live Nation bringing new hologram tours to Japan.

Live Nation reports earnings for their first quarter on May 9th. Analysts are looking for the company to report a loss of $0.43 for the quarter, compared to a loss of $0.27 a year ago. The company has missed earnings estimates each of the last two quarters, but did have a 35.7% beat in the first quarter last year. Analysts expect a loss of $0.31 for fiscal 2012 before predicting the company will be flat $0.00 in 2013. Shares trade at $9.00 at the time of writing and I think they could hit $12 before the end of the year, which implies upside of 33%.

Madison Square Garden owns and runs the namesake arena, which is the busiest arena in the United States. A TLC tour will most likely make a stop at the arena, which holds around 20,000 people for concert. With the high costs of creating hologram images of dead musicians, several tours will only see a few destinations on the list. Other images could be used at one location or festival, with Madison Square Garden. Even without shows at Madison Square Garden, the company could enjoy the benefits with their media segment.

Madison Square Garden owns the Madison Square Garden Network and Fuse Network. With the amount of money earned by TLC's last tour and their high earning pay per view, a television special is highly possible again. Madison Square Garden could show the TLC tour on FUSE. Any additional added hologram tours will offer the possibility of Madison Square Garden's Media segment to continue its strong growth.

I have wrote about Madison Square Garden before, but limited it to the sports segment and Linsanity. Madison Square Garden shares continue to hit new fifty two week highs with the success of the New York Rangers and the television ratings from those games. I see shares quickly approaching $40 and think the shares are still worth buying at these levels. A quick entry by the New York Knicks could however provide a new buying entry point if shares are hit.

Digital Domain, the company who helped with the Tupac hologram, is a leader in creating images for movies and advertisements. The possibilities are now endless for bringing back deceased stars into movies, advertisements, or commercials. Entertainment Weekly recently wrote an article linking the possibility of bringing back Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page, and James Dean in commercials to sell products.

Another possible winner in all of this new technology is Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iTunes store and the record labels themselves. Tupac's "Greatest Hits" album hit a high of #129 on Billboard's Top 200 Album Charts after seeing an increase in sales of 571%. Two other albums, All Eyez on Me and Me Against the World sold well after the hologram image took the stage as well. The singles performed by Tupac at the festival, "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted" and "Hail Mary", were downloaded 9,000 and 13,000 times respectively in the week following the performance.

Tupac's best known song "California Love" was downloaded 11,000 times after the festival performance. These results are not enough to certify albums or songs platinum, but are a good glimpse as to the effect of a hologram image. The potential of a live tour would bring in millions of dollars in song downloads, album sales, and merchandise sold.

The question that was asked in the comments of a recent article was whether or not it was okay to profit from dead celebrities. Perhaps Digital Domain should be considered a sin stock along with the likes of gambling, tobacco, and alcohol. The Tupac image was done with permission of the family and all the future hologram images will need permission as well.

Along with shareholders profiting, the families and estates also profit as they are paid for the use of the image, as well as the increase in merchandise sold. If you think it is morally wrong to make money off of dead images, then ignore the advice in this article. If you would like to keep you options open of making money from this coming craze invest in Digital Domain, Live Nation, Madison Square Garden, and Apple.

*Hologram images are not really holograms or 3D, but rather 2D images created. The images appear to be 3D by using technology that has been around for a long time and plays on viewers eyes.

Disclosure: I am long DDMG.

Additional disclosure: May initiate a long position in MSG or LYV in the next 72 hours.