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Space Beacon
Yepz, this ringtone is obviously from the alien culture. Lol. I'm kidding. But it's quite fascinating. Make your phone abudent with this tone.
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Submitted by:  Hairball
Total Downloads:  1346
Release Date:  Jul 6th, 2007
File Size:  475KB
Rating:  Poor | 1 rate(s)

Tags: beacon  funny  sound  space 
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Mastertones ring up profits
By Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY

Hello, record business? Big profits are on the line. Will you take the call?
The response: Brrrrring it on!

Contradicting its paranoid and paralytic response to the initial boom in download technology, the music industry is gleefully embracing the ringtone revolution, now powering into its second phase as richer mastertones supplant squeaky polyphonics.

This week, Nielsen RingScan unveils its mastertone sales data, and Billboard publishes its inaugural mastertone chart, a clear indication of the song snippet's stature.

As album sales sag (down 5% this year), the constant busy signal in mastertone sales is giving the music industry hope for a turnaround. With Informa Telecoms and Media projecting a $6.8 billion mastertone business by 2010, labels are salivating over profit and promotional opportunities.

The mastertone's rise is evident in a comparison of Nielsen's RingScan and SoundScan data. In the week ending Nov. 12, Akon's Smack That was the No. 1 mastertone, with 164,000 sold. It was No. 2 on the digital chart after selling 104,000 downloads. Beyoncé's Irreplaceable sold 124,000 mastertones and 79,000 downloads.

In recognition of the mastertone's commercial and cultural clout, the Recording Industry Association of America, which has certified album sales for 47 years, recently introduced Master Ringtone Sales Awards by inaugurating 128 gold and platinum artists.

The ringtone market "is a big hip-hop place, heavily driven by teens, and they're veering to mastertones," says Geoff Mayfield, director of charts at Billboard, which will introduce its Hot RingMasters chart on Friday and transfer polyphonic rankings to its website. "The diminished polyphonic market is becoming more adult-leaning."

Polyphonic ringtones, synthesized reproductions of songs, were dominant in the market until more handsets could accommodate the actual sound recordings that constitute mastertones.

"We were floored at how big the polyphonic numbers were when we added the chart in October 2004," Mayfield says. "Week in and week out, the No. 1 polyphonic would outsell the best-selling digital track. You're talking about a whole song for 99 cents vs. a cheap synthesized version for up to three times the price. Then polyphonics started trailing off. People wanted the real songs."

The average cost for a ringtone is $2.40, says Paul Leakas, general manager of Nielsen Mobile. Polyphonics tend to range from $1.99 to $2.50, while mastertones run $3 or more. The price hasn't hampered the shift to mastertones.

"They've quickly taken over the ringtone space and represent 86% of weekly sales, compared to polyphonic tones with 12%," Leakas says. "We continue to track polyphonics, and that space seems to be going to seasonal ringtones and movie and game themes. More people are opting for actual songs. The major labels and their artists are fully entrenched in the business. It's very hit-driven."

Trendy polyphonic titles include themes from Mission: Impossible, The Pink Panther and John Carpenter's Halloween, a perennial.

Among the hottest mastertones: radio hits Jim Jones' We Fly High, Bow Wow's Shortie Like Mine and Fergie's Fergalicious. Big sellers tend to be current because consumers switch tones often, discarding last month's flavor for a fresh hit, making the mastertone trade especially lucrative.

"I prefer the real song as opposed to the polyphonic, where the music is too manipulated," says Jillian Weyman, 15, a high school sophomore in Tarzana, Calif. Her favorite ringtone is the Hush Sound's We Intertwined. "The mastertone just sounds better. If there's a difference in price, it's usually not significant."

Labels are thrilled not only with the fat revenue stream but also with promotional potential.

Before rapper Rick Ross' Port of Miami album reached stores last summer, 1 million phones were ringing with the sound of his Hustlin'. Last month, rapper Jibbs became the second artist to rack up 1 million ringtone sales of a song not yet released, when his Chain Hang Low went platinum before his debut album hit stores.

Chamillionaire's Ridin' (You Can't Arrest Me) is the year's top seller, with 3 million mastertones.

Rap prevails in the chart's upper ranks, but Leakas notes: "The industry is widening. In the past, R&B and hip-hop, which had the best sound in a synthesized clip, dominated. But we've seen classic rock and alternative and other genres appearing as mastertones have become the primary ringtone."

A key difference between polyphonics and mastertones lies in profit splits. The former made money for carriers, publishers and songwriters, but not performers.

"With mastertones, the labels and artists are stakeholders," Mayfield says. "Artists who don't write their own songs get a piece of the action. It's a good revenue generator for the record business.

"(The mastertone chart) is an important metric. You can't just look at album sales anymore to decree the health of any record company. You have to look at more and more parts of the elephant: digital tracks, streaming and ringtones."

Recent sales have averaged 4.6 million ringtones a week. With the expected addition of Sprint Nextel, Nielsen RingScan will track more than 80% of U.S. ringtone sales. Anticipating continued growth in the entire mobile sector, the company will soon track ringback tones, the tune a cell owner installs for incoming callers to hear.

BMI, a trade organization that distributes royalties to 300,000 member songwriters, composers and music publishers, projects U.S ringtone revenues will surpass $600 million in 2006, up from $500 million last year, $245 million in 2004 and $68 million in 2003. Global sales rose 40% in the past year to $3.5 billion, accounting for 10% of the music market, according to the London-based ARC Group, which forecasts skyrocketing growth into 2008, when sales should exceed $5.2 billion.

"We might not see triple-digit growth year over year," Leakas says, "but we expect to see continued growth on a weekly basis."

It brings to mind a sardonic lyric from the Arctic Monkeys' A Certain Romance: "There's only music so that there's new ringtones."

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