Lately, MySpace has begun feeling like a kegger at 4am: mostly empty, with a handful of party weirdos standing in the kitchen, quietly swaying to a mixtape the DJ's girlfriend left behind. Hell, even Tom bailed on that stuff. So far as we know, the only folks who admit to MySpace membership anymore are musicians and tweenage girls, so we have to assume that's exactly who Toyota is targeting in its second-annual Toyota Music Rock the Space competition.
If you missed last year's contest, don't worry -- anyone who's ever watched more than 30 seconds of American Idol already knows the premise. In a nutshell: struggling bands submit demo tracks to the official contest website, MySpace.com/ToyotaMusic. After the submission period ends on June 7, a panel of music industry folks will evaluate the entries and select ten semifinalists. MySpacers then vote to narrow that field to five. (Well, technically six, because they've added an extra spot for the "she's got a GREAT personality" fan favorite.)
And of course, you know how it ends: with a flurry of emails and text messages and cafeteria cliques and voting, voting, voting, resulting in one big winner that will rip some fans in two. It's gonna get ugly.
As for the question of how Toyota will make its marketing message heard above all that pubescent screaming, we're happy to see that senior media strategist Kim Kyaw has the right idea:
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'.
Which is only reasonable, since positioning this marketing effort lower down the funnel -- closer to the point of purchase -- wouldn't make sense. Because why market cars to girls who can't drive yet?
Apart from our general irritation over MySpace -- a product that, like Kevin Federline, could've been really stellar, if it hadn't let itself go to seed -- we have to vent just a bit about this now-common competition format. Not only does it remove the real judges of talent (i.e. music experts) from the final cut, but it also forces us, the innocent friends and relatives of tweenagers, to ensure a barrage of tweets and Facebook messages about the damn contest. And you know, we already have enough to worry about this week.
But just to be fair, in case you're a musician waiting to get signed and you don't wanna deal with iTunes on your own, here's a video that'll tell you how Rock the Space works. Pay attention: Toyota's in there somewhere.