Two weeks ago, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre's closing performance at Coachella set Twitter and other social media sites ablaze. Those watching the show live in California or streaming it online saw not only the raps of Snoop and Dre, but also an array of surprise guests including Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, 50 Cent, Eminem, and, believe it or not, Tupac.

Tupac, or at least a hologram of the world-famous rapper who was killed in 1996, began by walking around the stage and amping up the crowd by shouting, "What the f--k is up, Coachella?" He then went on to perform two of his classics, "Hail Mary" and "2 of Americaz Most Wanted," animatedly moving his body all the while. Admittedly, Tupac's likeness did appear to float and move unnaturally from time to time. Yet the performance was jaw-dropping and truly historical all the same. Under the direction of his friends Snoop and Dre, everything—from his voice to his movements—were created from original footage of the rapper.

The posthumous holographic performance is not the first of its kind. Elvis appeared in 2007 in an "American Idol" duet with Celine Dion in similar fashion, but his likeness was projected onto a stand-in performer with digital merging rotoscoping. Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett have also been projecting the animated cast of electronic group Gorillaz since 2005, using the same technology that brought Tupac to life on April 15. Both projections were created using two-dimensional images displayed on an angled screen, making the musicians appear incredibly lifelike.

All the same, seeing Tupac on stage was stunning to say the least. And who better to portray via hologram than someone whose past is shrouded in so much rumor and conspiracy?

Using Tupac's image was a great decision, as it wowed the crowd and honored his life and career. Nonetheless, I fear that it set a scary precedent for the misuse of dead musical figures in future festivals and concerts. In a world of music and entertainment where the majority struggles and the "Big Four" music companies—that is, Sony, Universal, Warner, and EMI—reap most of the profits, this threat is even more worrying.

Although festivals like Coachella are known for hosting many lesser-known musical groups, their real popularity stems from big acts and headliners. My concern is that festivals and others seeking a hefty profit will jump at the opportunity to be the next to host dead or discontinued groups while many deserving—and living—musical groups miss that already-rare opportunity to play.

After all, who wouldn't pay to see some of the greatest musicians back on stage? I know I would attend a holographic Michael Jackson or Beatles concert in a heartbeat for the experience. But therein lies the problem. As people become infatuated with the idea of seeing their favorites again, the musical world will stagnate. It's a zero-sum game out there; paying too much attention to older artists will inevitably mean missing out on new ones.

The Tupac hologram, or more accurately, James Cameron's Digital Domain-owned image and projection technology, apparently cost upwards of $400,000 to produce. It also required the purchasing of rights to Tupac's likeness as well as the songs he rapped on stage. That requires some serious connections and lots of cash.

The Elvis hologram from 2007 already revealed the advantage of being the richest in the industry. "American Idol" was only able to produce the holographic surprise because the powerful company that owns "Idol"—CKX—owns a number of other entertainment properties, including the image and likeness of Elvis Presley.

It is important to realize that the past needs to stay in the past for the good of the music industry's future. It is crucial that current artists can continue to draw from the work of their predecessors. Once rich companies start buying up the rights to deceased musicians, new artists will have to compete against them. Pitting the most famous and best-loved musicians of all time against new artists is a sorry prospect indeed.

It's depressing when beloved acts die or break up, but that's what is special about living in a particular era. Years from now, people will mourn the death of today's most talented artists, but that does not mean that they will dwell in the past at the expense of the present. Music and entertainment evolves with time, and a preoccupation with reviving old stars will take money, resources and attention away from potential new talent. Music companies should be cautious before diving blindly into such self-interested projects.