On Tour and Online

MySpace is getting into the reverse engineering business. The 110 million user social network has become a force to contend with in the music business, turning into one of the most important sources for discovering and promoting new talent.

Now MySpace is taking its heft into the concert arena and producing a tour for the first time. As MySpace ventures into the offline world, lead sponsor VO5 will ride along both online and off.

Most advertisers and media companies are scrambling to migrate their brick and mortar properties into digital manifestations. But in this case, MySpace is employing a reverse sort of convergence, by guiding a sponsor from the digital world to the real world. Other digital brands are likely to follow suit.

The MySpace Music Tour was slated to kick off on Oct. 16 in Seattle, co-headlined by Hellogoodbye and Say Anything, and will run through October and November.

The tour will feature all sorts of digital and traditional cross-pollination. Hellogoodbye lead singer Forrest Kline will post blog updates after each performance, while VO5 will sponsor meet-and-greet events with the bands on site. Fans can register for a chance to attend these events online.

“There is a parallel thing with offline and online that feed each other and that hasn’t been done often,” says Josh Brooks, vice president of marketing at MySpace. MySpace has steadily carved out a place in the music industry in the last few years. More than 8 million bands use MySpace, and MySpace Music has been the launch pad for high profile performers such as Gnarls Barkley, Fall Out Boy and Sean Kingston.

 “For months and years we have worked with bands from Nine Inch Nails to Dave Matthews and we said, ‘Let’s do it ourselves, we build the tour, we book the tour,’ ” Brooks says.    

For every show, MySpace will provide something special for MySpace users, such as a blog update or behind-the-scenes video. Those efforts let VO5 reach the online community throughout the tour.

MySpace is onto something with this project, says Michael Hayes, senior vice president and managing director for the interactive group in North America at media buying agency Initiative. “Consumers are consuming media both in the digital world and offline world. So this is a natural extension and worth paying attention to to see how they do it,” he says.

For an online brand to migrate to the offline world also demonstrates the power of digital brands. Other digital brands with hipness and relevance might be able to pull off the same sort of reverse convergence, Hayes adds.    

Recently, State Farm’s NowWhat branding campaign sponsored the Projekt Revolution concert tour with an online stream hosted by MySpace. That online-offline mix can help project State Farm as a hip brand, says Ed Gold, advertising director for State Farm. “We hope to get young adults thinking about State Farm in a different way.”

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