MySpace Unveils Inaugural Sponsors for Music Venture

MySpace today unveiled the first corporate sponsors to help underwrite its experiment in changing how consumers find their music. They are McDonald’s, Toyota, State Farm and Sony Pictures.

The News Corp-owned social network announced plans for the expanded MySpace Music service — a joint venture with Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group — back in April. The venture will offer a variety of ad-supported music downloads and players free or “very competitively priced” to consumers.

The model, which stands in stark contrast to pay-per-download channels like iTunes, promises deeper engagement opportunities for advertisers, given the large share of the costs they will be shouldering. MySpace will share some advertising revenue with its music label partners, an idea that seems to intrigue the struggling music industry.

“MySpace Music is our biggest initiative since we launched MySpace itself,” said Jeff Berman, president of sales and marketing, MySpace, in a statement. “With MySpace Music integration, premium brands are offering our users and their customers new ways to discover, experience, and share music online and offline.”

The announcement included preliminary details of how the advertisers will be integrated into MySpace Music — though details on a launch date or a CEO for the venture, which the company has been searching for since April, have yet to be announced.

McDonald’s branding will be integrated into the MySpace personal music player, and the company will sponsor a number of free music downloads. Sony, in an effort to promote upcoming release Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, will be placing skins of the movie on users’ playlists for an entire week. Toyota will be sponsoring an entire year of Toyota Tuesdays, on which the car manufacturer will offer free downloads and recommend new music to users. State Farm will enjoy a more general brand presence on the site, including a “rotational presence” among playlists, the music player and downloads.

MySpace Music “allows us to connect with customers in a unique and relevant way,” said Anja Carroll, marketing director at McDonald’s USA, in a statement. “This venture provides customized tools and applications to a large, passionate audience, helping them to discover, download and enjoy the music they love.”

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