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  • Why Cameo Is Open to Deepfake Shoutouts From Dead Celebrities – Business Insider

 October 20

by Carolina

  • Cameo CEO Steven Galanis said the company is open to deceased celebrities joining its platform.
  • “We could go to their estate and offer a great new income stream for people that have passed away,” he said.
  • The remarks came during an interview at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live event on October 18. 

The video shoutout app Cameo isn’t just for the living. The company would consider letting computer-generated, deepfake versions of dead celebrities join its platform, CEO Steven Galanis said.

“Imagine Michael Jackson’s estate, or Prince, or people like that where there’d be huge demand for them,” Galanis said, speaking to the Wall Street Journal’s Georgia Wells at the WSJ Tech Live event on Monday. “That could be something that really helps their families down the line. So the technology is getting there. Once it’s there, we’ll make that decision. But if our fans want it, it’s something we would totally be open to doing.”

Cameo’s roster already features an array of non-traditional talent. For $20, a user can request a video shoutout from Universal Pictures’ animated character Boss Baby,  and the platform hosts a pair of “talking” Corgis who charge $90 for personal videos or up to $1,000 for business bookings. While a deepfake version of Michael Jackson doesn’t exist on Cameo yet, the app does offer shoutouts from a Michael Jackson impersonator who charges $110 for personal messages and $770 for business or marketing events.

“As far as dead celebrities or computer animated or deepfakes, these are all things that our customer base has brought into us,” Galanis said. “They want to hear from Charlie Chaplin. They want to hear from George Washington, or Abe Lincoln, or JFK. And the technology is rapidly getting there.”

Other media players have tested out creating virtual versions of celebrities for the purposes of entertaining new audiences. In 2012, a “hologram” of the rapper Tupac Shakur performed alongside Snoop Dogg at Coachella, for example. And a TikTok user who created a deepfake version of the actor Tom Cruise recently launched a company to sell deepfake tech to brands and celebrities.

Galanis said Cameo would only consider adding a celebrity to its platform if it was something their estate endorsed. 

“If their estate is like, ‘Hey we would not want to do that,’ like of course we wouldn’t do it without their permission,” he said. 

A spokesperson for Jackson’s estate didn’t comment directly on Cameo, but told Insider, “Michael speaks to us and inspires the world every day through his music, his videos, his show MJ ONE in Las Vegas, and his forthcoming Broadway play ‘MJ.'” Representatives for Shakur and Prince didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Launched in 2017 by Galanis, Devon Townsend, and Martin Blencowe, Cameo saw a spike in business last year as live events shut down and talent looked for new ways to make money outside of in-person appearances. The company told Variety that it generated $100 million in gross revenue in 2020, a 450% increase from the previous year.

Cameo’s four biggest markets are currently the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada, but Galanis is bullish on expanding internationally.

“Most of our talent are English-speaking today,” he told Insider during an interview in August. “But every single language has people that are influential. Like there’s great Greek singers, and Italian soccer players, and Japanese baseball players. So there’s all different types of talent globally, and that’s exciting.”

Original posted at www.businessinsider.com

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