YouTube Partners With Interscope To Find Next Rap Star

Google's YouTube is set to launch its second sponsored music promotion, this time in conjunction with Universal's Interscope Records, to discover hip-hop's newest rising star.

When the YouTube OntheRise RAP Edition contest begins next Friday, users 18 and older are invited to submit a video featuring original lyrics and production, competing for a chance to record a single for Interscope's G-Unit and win a $10,000 gift card from Guitar Center.

Hip-hop artists 50 Cent, Common, and Polow Da Don will choose 20 finalists at the close of the contest on Aug. 17. On Aug. 29, the winners will be presented to the YouTube community for voting, and the grand prize winner will be unveiled in early September.

Banking on the success of last year's YouTube Underground contest, an effort co-sponsored by Cingular and ABC, the OntheRise effort will have a total of three genre-specific installments. Hip-hop/rap is the first, with the OntheRise Rock promotion slated to launch in Q4.

While neither company gave details of the financials of the project, a rep from Interscope did confirm that YouTube's value as a medium to generate artist awareness and Web site traffic did factor into the equation. "It's a promotional trade," said Ravid Yosef, digital marketing, Interscope. "50 will receive promotion for his upcoming album both editorially, and through advertising."

In addition to the sponsored page on YouTube, Interscope plans to promote the contest both on its own Interscope.com and 50cent.com.