IDJ/MP3.com Partners With Toyota, Warner Bros. Online With Hyundai and Shark—and Everyone Gets Free Turtle Wax!

Computer ads. ISP ads. Car ads. Games. Fast food. Clothing. Who isn’t using music to draw consumers? What better way to build or reinforce a brand, what more effective shortcut to the all-powerful mystique, than the use of a cool song—or the promise of access to a desirable catalog?

Even as CD sales struggle (though some uplifting Q1 chart stories have begun to emerge), the music industry’s "content" appears to be the bait on every hook.

It’s clear from a barrage of recent announcements that cross-promoting bands and brands has shed whatever stigma it may have borne in the past—and is becoming a more prominent revenue source during this uncertain juncture in the history of the biz.

"It’s an efficient way to reach a mass amount of people," insists artist manager and corporate consultant Aaron Walton. "Good sponsorships marry the brand image with the artist without compromising the integrity of either. And people at labels, who, in the past, were reluctant to do these deals, are now forced by the economy to pay more attention to them." Walton’s firm played a key role in putting together the deals for three music-heavy spots that ran during this year’s Super Bowl.

Two new promotions illustrate not only the role music can play in larger advertising and sponsorship ventures, but also how commercial tie-ins (frequently with a cool but comparatively inexpensive online component) are figuring ever more largely in the revenue picture for the music biz.

The "Fuel the Music" tour, sponsored by MP3.com, Island Def Jam and Toyota, is a state-of-the-market package that reflects Vivendi Universal’s integration and leveraging of its offline and online media properties.

The tour boasts IDJ rock acts like Sum 41, Hoobastank and American Hi-Fi, among others, and kicked off on 2/2 at Universal Orlando (yes, the venue is a VU property as well). But rather than uniting bands and fans under the banner of snowboarding or saving Tibet, this rockfest was assembled, to quote the release, "in support of the all-new Toyota Matrix."

Damn. Remember when rock was about getting high and sticking it to the man? Neither do we.

A promotional "microsite" (the word may make you cringe, but you’d better get used to it) at www.fuelthemusic.com/toyota was designed by MP3.com and will feature live webcasts, links to the artists’ and Toyota’s sites, songs from the tour, "automatic event notification" (don’t call it spam), branded Matrix e-cards and more.

The tour will also be outfitted with a BMX bike exhibition, fashion makeovers, a climbing wall and other diversions. But the backers of "Fuel the Music" undoubtedly believe that the handsomely mounted but relatively cheap online campaign will hit the lifestyle button for the demo Toyota hopes will want to drive off in a Matrix.

"This tour is a great example of the integrated campaigns we are creating that stem from our strategic relationship with MP3.com," notes IDJ President/CEO Lyor Cohen. "The combination of their leading technology, their ties to quality brands like Toyota and our premiere artist roster provides a unique way for us to all reach a common target audience. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find the twerp whose Matrix is blocking my Humve."

Hey, and as long as you’re checking out a concert and a new car, how about a sport drink? Warner Bros. Online’s "Live from Park City" concerts, filmed at the Sundance Film Festival, are being presented online through April 12 in conjunction with Hyundai and Shark Energy Drink.

Among the artists who performed at Harry O’s in Park City, Utah during the festival: Michelle Branch, Starsailor, Groove Armada, Jack Johnson, Goldfinger and Bowling for Soup. Users can view individual performances of individual songs are entire sets in Windows Media, Real or QuickTime formats.

Naturally, the concert, um, microsite features pop-up ads and other hype for AOLTW properties (including WB movies and the latest version of America Online, natch) as well as the sponsors’ products.

And the sponsors seem pretty darned happy, since proximity to the hipness of both established and developing acts represents a potential windfall for their products.

"Our association with Warner Bros. Online is another significant step in presenting the Hyundai message to active-lifestyle consumers via the Internet," noted the automaker’s VP of Marketing, Dave Weber. "And if I were to sum up that message succinctly, I believe it would be, ‘Please buy a Hyundai.’"

Added Robert Tauro, Chairman/CEO of Shark parent Arcadia Beverage, "I have no doubt that aligning with Warner Bros. Online is the most direct and cost-effective way to reach our core demo. And one of the things we’ve learned from our core demo is that these sport drinks taste a lot better mixed with some vodka."

We’ll try to keep you posted on these new cross-promotional efforts from time to time. We promise lots of quotes stuffed with buzz-phrases like "core demo," "lifestyle marketing" and "microsite."

This article is brought to you by the good people who make cheap supermarket booze.

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