Toyota Launches 'Rock The Space' For Musicians

Toyota Music Toyota, which last fall signed on as one of three inaugural sponsors of MySpace Music -- the News Corp. property's independent label -- is activating the partnership with "Rock the Space," a competition encouraging unsigned bands or solo artists.

Toyota's MySpace page serves as central casting, a place where musicians and bands can submit an original song for the opportunity to score a recording contract with MySpace Records.

Toyota has made music central to its brand efforts for years. The company has been a big sponsor at the SXSW festival and supports its Tundra pickup truck with sponsorship of the Brooks & Dunn duo's country-music tour. On its MySpace site, Toyota hosts "Toyota Tuesdays," whereby the company gives away free downloads on that day. Toyota also sponsors the Toyota Concert Series on "The Today Show" in New York's Rockefeller Plaza and The Stagecoach Music Festival in Indio, Calif., among other events.



As part of the deal with MySpace, artists who submit an original MP3 demo can also create a "widget," a viral rich-media component shaped like a demo tape that MySpace users can add to their profiles and use to post comments on the Toyota Music profile.

In July, MySpace Records will select five finalists who will be featured on the Toyota Music profile, and the MySpace community will vote to select the winner. The five finalists will receive a media allocation to promote themselves with My Ads targeted advertising throughout MySpace.

The "Rock the Space" winner, announced in September, will get a recording contract as well as a $10,000 musical instrument prize package provided by Fender. The winner's song will also be available for download on the MySpace Music Home Page. The four runners-up win a MySpace Records Development Deal friends package.

In addition to supporting the program with a digital ads on a range of sites, Toyota is taking ad buys in magazines like "Paste," "Pollstar," "Music Connection," "Spin," and "Billboard." Toyota is also sending out street teams to shows, concerts, events, and lifestyle venues including recording studios, record stores, bars, and clothing stores. There will also be grassroots efforts in markets such as New York, L.A., Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, and Atlanta.

John Lisko, executive communications director for Saatchi, L.A., who was in New York this week for the upfronts, tells Marketing Daily the gist of it is that Toyota, with 18 different models, give or take, can't limit itself to one genre or artist when it comes to music marketing. "When you can find a platform like MySpace that can connect with virtually all buyers, what it allows us to do is connect with any genre they find interesting -- so it's not polarizing," he says.

He says the benefit is brand advocacy. "We have a Toyota community section within MySpace with new music every week, information for and about artists. There are more than four million bands on MySpace, and everyone on the site is looking to connect with like-minded people. Ultimately, it's about celebrating music."

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