Does MySpace Experiment Promise More or “Same Old Thing” for Music Industry?

Posted By Joe Pulizzi on September 25, 2008

The recent MySpace Music announcement has created some buzz about "saving" the music industry with their joint venture deal partnering with the major music labels. Although the details are sketchy at this point, the program, which has already signed up three major advertisers (McDonald's, State Farm and Toyota), promises to integrate branding messages with music offers such as free digital downloads, limited-time album downloads and sponsored-content opportunities.

What bothers me most about the AdAge article is the very significant absence of stated benefits for the music fan.  Sure, free downloads are great, but is this promising any more than what radio and TV have already done?  Ed Gold, advertising director at State Farm states that "[this form of] advertising can work in the same way advertising helps support TV. The broadcast model has always been to watch ads and get free programming. Maybe that's what's going to happen here in the music space."

Shouldn't the online promise for music fans be something more than the very traditional models of TV and radio?

This move makes perfect sense for MySpace, getting them away from banner advertising that doesn't work and following integrated sponsorship models ala NASCAR. These deals will be big, and generate substantial revenues for the social networking phenom.

But let's hope that MySpace takes the next step with the major labels, and invests the ad dollars in new and engaging "fresh" content that the brands will need to offer true engagement. Will the marketing goals and objectives of the brands be taken into account, or is this just sponsorship packaging on steroids? Will the brands get to tell their story?

It's hard to say at this point, and to be fair, without more detail who knows what the plan will morph into? In order to be successful, I'm not sure "brought to you by" or "compliments of" will do. These major brands want real engagement, and only a mixture of music journalism, fresh information, innovative formats and user integration will meet that promise.

No easy task, but mandatory to "save" the music industry. Only time will tell.


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