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"Advertising is key to this business model."
——MySpace's Jeff Berman
COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH: MYSPACE MUSIC COMING INTO FOCUS
Big-Time Advertisers Climb on Board as CEO Search Continues
MySpace is nailing down advertisers for MySpace Music, which is expected to launch very soon with or without a CEO.

On Sunday, Newscorp-owned MySpace identified Toyota, McDonald's, State Farm and Sony Pictures as advertisers for the soon-to-launch and potentially game-changing joint venture with the major labels.

"Advertising is key to this business model," MySpace President of Sales and Marketing Jeff Berman pointed out, underscoring the money-making strategy of the venture.

The site is drawing comparisons to CBS' Last.FM and start-up iMeem.com, notes the N.Y. Post, because users will be able to stream tracks on demand, free of charge. The downloads generated by these ad-supported streams will be handled by Amazon MP3, which stands to get a much-needed boost if MySpace Music gains traction.

Additionally, users will be able to assemble and share playlists using the catalogs of the participating labels, a functionality that also enhances personalization of member pages, Digital Music News points out.

According to the Post, Toyota will have branding in MySpace Music’s navigation bar, on ads that wrap around media players and on playlists, as well as through homepage takeovers. The car maker will also have the title sponsorship for a year-long free download giveaway program called "Toyota Tuesdays."

McDonald's, meanwhile, will do media player branding and sponsored download giveaways. It's also using MySpace ad-targeting technology to focus on segmented user groups based on self-expressed interests available on MySpace profiles like preferred music genres and favorite artists.

MySpace, which currently has more than 30 million unique monthly aggregated music users as well as additional visitors to millions of individual artist pages, is believed to be kicking in between $50 million and $100 million to fund the launch.

Longer-term, plans call for the site to be a tightly integrated hub for almost every kind music product, including subscriptions, ringtones, merchandise and concert tickets.

EMI has yet to join the venture, which still hasn’t worked out arrangements with most indie labels and a number of pubberies, who are seeking equity opportunities comparable to those hammered out by minority owners UMG, SMEI and Warner Music.

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