Toyota is extending a program begun last year designed to get some deserving musicians record contracts and to get the Toyota name out to MySpace music fans and bands. The new co-promotion with MySpace, called "Toyota Music Rock the Space 2," dangles a deal with MySpace Records, lots of gear and maybe more than 15 minutes of fame for a band next door.
The effort, which runs through June 7, aims to get artists and fans to visit Toyota's MySpace Music site at MySpace.com/ToyotaMusic. For the former, it's an opportunity to submit an MP3 demo and spread their music around the social Web. For the latter it's an opportunity to vote on which brand deserves a nod.
The site has, among other things, digital programs for creating virtual demo tapes, visual themes for the cassette-tape-themed widgets that artists can distribute around MySpace and other social sites. Another viral element allows MySpace users to add the demo tape music widgets to their profiles and post comments on the Toyota Music profile.
Once the submission period is over, a music industry panel including artist and repertoire brass will select 10 semifinalists who get top billing on the Toyota Music profile. Then the MySpace community goes to Toyota's MySpace page to vote to narrow the pool to five finalists.
The community will also get to vote for a "fan favorite" to be the sixth finalist for consideration. All finalists will receive a media allocation to promote themselves with My Ads targeted advertising throughout MySpace -- and the fans will vote to pick the winner, to be announced in September.
The final winner gets a recording contract plus a $10,000 musical instrument prize package from axe-maker Fender. The winner in 2009, "Call the Cops" has an inaugural album coming out this summer and will tour with the Vans Warped Tour in June.
According to MySpace reps, last year's effort, the winner of which is touring with the Vans Warped Tour this summer and has a record coming out as well, garnered some 60 million demo "listens." Per MySpace, the program also garnered 132,000 widget grabs, and that users voted over 60,000 times.
Kim Kyaw, senior media strategist for Toyota, says Toyota's branding in the program is deliberately low-key. "MySpace is a complex social network, and in order to be authentic there you have to relate back to what it is people are doing there. Since this is about reaching out to unsigned artists and generating positive messaging that this is made possible by Toyota, it makes it more of a brand initiative; it's more 'higher funnel'."
She says the goal of the campaign is getting lots of impressions and interaction, something Toyota is doing a bit differently this year by creating more voting opportunities as the Toyota MySpace site.
"This year we wanted to provide more 'stickiness' -- a reason for people to come back and vote. So we have duels where people can come back and randomly vote on things like best song title, and best widget design," says Kyaw. As far as the program as a draw for artists, she says the 19,000 submissions garnered from the first go-round were far stronger than Toyota had anticipated. "Originally, we only expected 1,200 people to submit songs."