Personalized Music Ring Tones Are Big Business for Wireless, Music Industries.
Byline: Beatrice E. Garcia
Feb. 22--When Margaret Miller's
cellphone blares the DMX tune X Is Gonna Give It To Ya, she knows it's her kids
or her mom calling. A clip from Crazy in Love by Beyonce chimes out when her
niece calls "because she's a crazy girl." "I'm a music person," says Miller, who
lives in Fort Lauderdale.
"Everything in my life is about music." She is among the millions who have
personalized their cellphones with ring tones, snippets of music programmed into
the phones to play when certain callers ring them up. Cellphone ringers can
range from the highbrow, such as Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, to the lowbrow,
such as the theme to SpongeBob SquarePants, or dog barks and frog croaks.
Ring tones come in just about every genre of music, from alternative and country
to hip-hop, jazz and rock. University fight songs are a wildly popular category.
And while some see ring tones as being frivolous and unnecessary -- and
sometimes downright annoying -- these tiny recordings are huge moneymakers for
the wireless carriers and the music industry.
Last year, sales of mobile-phone ringers jumped 40 percent to $3.5 billion
Ring-tone sales accounted for more than 10 percent of the $32.2 billion in music
sales around the globe last year, according to The Arc Group, a London-based
telecommunications consulting firm.
Says Richard Jesty, an analyst at the Arc Group: "Over time, the novelty will
wear off, but not yet." He expects that sales will remain strong through 2008,
eventually hitting $5.2 billion worldwide.
Mobile-phone users can buy ring tones from their carrier's website or go to
various websites that offer a variety of downloads for cellphones, including
ring tones, games, screen savers and wallpaper.
Wireless phones with Internet access can download ring tones directly and put
them to use in about a minute. These phones usually can play polyphonic ring
tones -- which sound more than one note simultaneously -- rather than the beep,
beep of monophonic ring tones.