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Fans Are Furious After Pop Star Charges $400 for Photo With AI-Generated Hologram

Melanie Martinez came to fame on the competition series The Voice.

Fans of the musician Melanie Martinez (who uses she/they pronouns) are slamming her on social media after finding out they paid to take a photo with a hologram of her instead of the pop star herself. As reported by People, fans on TikTok have explained to their followers that a $400 VIP package they purchased for Martinez's current tour included the opportunity to take a photo with a digitally inserted version of the singer—a price that would be comparable to some other performer's in-person meet-and-greets. And some are complaining that they don't think they received much else for their hefty ticket price, either. Read on to find out more about the star's futuristic photo ops and why buyers feel cheated.

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Martinez came to fame on a reality competition series.

Melanie Martinez at "The Voice" top 12 event in 2012
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Martinez came to fame competing on the reality show The Voice in 2012. They made it to the top six before being eliminated. Since then, the 28-year-old has released three albums. The latest, Portals, came out this year and is the album this tour is promoting.

Fans could purchase VIP packages.

Melanie Martinez performing in London in 2020
Tom Rose / Shutterstock

Martinez is currently on tour in the U.S. and will soon visit Canada before heading to Mexico and in Europe in the fall and then New Zealand and Australia at the beginning of next year. Tickets for their concerts can be purchased on Ticketmaster—though, now, there are only resale tickets available, at least for the U.S. shows. The site also lists information about what the VIP package includes.

In addition to a seat at the show, a VIP ticket includes, per Ticketmaster: access to the interactive Portals photo experience, an autographed poster, a VIP-exclusive merchandise package, a digital collectable, and a commemorative VIP laminate.

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Some fans were satisfied to be photographed with a hologram.

Melanie Martinez performing in Sao Paulo in 2017
Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

One fan posted a video on TikTok of herself taking part in the tour's high-tech photo booth, which shows her standing in a designated spot, so she that will appear to be next to Martinez in the photo and video. The fan cannot actually see the AI-generated Martinez in person, but on screen, the hologram interacts with the fan, waving, posing, and blowing a kiss.

This VIP package buyer, at least, was content with the experience. "I thought it was cute everyones hating it never said anywhere there was going to be a meet and greet," she wrote. "The concert was so fun."

Other fans weren't as pleased.

Fans with the Melanie Martinez hologram
© @thenames_fish / TikTok

But other fans either weren't happy with the hologram photo opportunity, felt the VIP tickets were too expensive, or both. The VIP package was not advertised to include an in-person meet-and-greet with Martinez, but buyers still felt that, at the price they paid, an AI version of the "VOID" singer wasn't adequate.

"Does anyone else think the vip ai meet and greet with Melanie is kinda stupid? I mean the vip tickets were 400$ dollars and you didn't even really get anything, you get a signed poster and [totebag] and keychain it's not really worth 400$," a fan wrote on TikTok. They went on to comment on the hologram being of Martinez wearing the otherworldly prosthetics they often use. "I get that the [prosthetics] take long to put on and stuff. The vip tickets could of atleast [sic] been a little Cheaper," the fan continued.

Another fan on TikTok wrote, "Just got home from the Melanie Martinez portals and kinda upset ab how the vip meet and greet was ai generated.

Someone else posted alongside their video, "Our interaction with ai Melanie:) i cant imagine how it would've felt if we actually got to meet her."

Others say they think VIP buyers were "ripped off."

A fan with the Melanie Martinez hologram
© @katebellla/ TikTok

After reports from the VIP experience began circulating, Twitter users denounced artists charging for AI-generated photo opportunities. Alongside a video of two fans getting their photo taken with the hologram Martinez, someone wrote, "ai meet and greets is the dumbest [expletive] ever you literally couldve photoshopped this." Another Twitter user posted, "Melanie Martinez vip experience is such a scam. She should genuinely apologize she's actually ripping her fans off with that." Someone else said, "MELANIE MARTINEZ DID GREEN SCREEN MEET AND GREETS???? FOR HER VIP?????"

Martinez has not addressed the backlash. Best Life has reached out to the singer for comment.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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