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MySpace kicks off 'Rock the Vote' contest for bands

By getting fans to register to vote, bands with profiles on the News Corp.-owned social network can get in the running to headline a concert at the Democratic National Convention.

When I was a kid, youth-voting organization Rock the Vote teamed up with MTV when it wanted to reach young audiences. But in the 21st century, it's MySpace: the News Corp.-owned social network has announced a contest called 'DemROCKracy,' in which bands that use the site as a promotional tool are invited to encourage their fans to register to vote.

Here's how it works: from now through August 14, bands with profiles on MySpace can install a tool on their pages that lets their fans register to vote. The first 25 bands to have 150 people register to vote through the tool will have their music featured in custom playlists on TouchTunes digital jukeboxes--you know, the kind you see in bars--and then the grand prize winner will get to be the opening act at Rock the Vote's "Ballot Bash" concert at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on August 25. They'll also get some new guitars courtesy of Gibson.

Despite the fact that the show is at the Democratic convention, both Rock the Vote and MySpace's political arm say they are nonpartisan.

MySpace is hoping the contest will spark the interest of some of the many small-time bands that have a presence on the site and have used it to build up loyal fan bases. "Not only will the competition link MySpace's thriving music division with an active and successful field effort but it will also offer small bands, a core constituency of MySpace, the chance to open up for top talent," Lee Brenner, executive producer of political programming and director of the "Impact" political channel on MySpace, said in a release Tuesday. "This competition with Rock the Vote is furthering the democratization of music and the ability of bands to engage their fans through MySpace."

Registering to vote and actually showing up at the polls are two very different things. But since last year, MySpace has been stepping up the effort on youth voting and political awareness as the 2008 election draws closer: the most recent projects have been a reporting contest gearing up for the conventions, in conjunction with MSNBC; an election site powered by NBC; and regular member polls pertaining to politics.