Another View of Mobile Ringtones Industry

By: Grigoriy Anoshenko

The appetite for ring tones has not shown abatement with the global ring tone market forecasted to grow around $5.2 billion annually. In 2006, ring tones accounted for over 10 per cent of the $ 32.3 billion worldwide music market. With market researchers throwing up figures of increasing trends within consumers to seek music entertainment from their mobile phones, this industry has caught the fancy of ring tone artists. Several websites display a 'Top Ten' ring tone chartbuster list along with providing a list of popular international song artists' composition of their famous songs for ring tones. The Crazy Frog ring tone was the first mobile ring tone, as per reports, to top the pop charts in Britain.

The steadily growing popularity and influence amongst the youth, has led the music industry to embrace its kin with open arms for various reasons. The hip - hop fraternity's contribution accounts for more than half of all the downloaded ring tones across the globe, according to sources. And therefore artists such as 50 Cent, Mariah Carey, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, et al are more than willing to compose ring tones of their famous numbers. It has already been forecasted by professionals and experts that ring tones will overshadow the sales of the music industry because royalties from mobile phone ring tones are expected to surpass the sales of CD's as the primary source of income for music makes across the globe.

The industry growth is indeed unstoppable with manufacturers releasing swankier models with the requisite operating systems to play the freely available ring tones in a variety of formats. The large fan following of the formerly dominant polyphonic hip hop tones, are now making room to accommodate fans of country music, Bollywood hits, pop, rock, and other genres.

Having said this, this industry is facing some turbulent times already. With the piracy issue looming large, there have been reports of disputes between songwriters and producers of films over royalty fees. The former have been receiving a one time fee for their compositions without any regard for the future value appreciation of their work. Their argument primarily being that ring tone royalties not being covered in the original contract need to be accounted for now with additional revenues generated from their piece of work being used across a variety of mediums. Bollywood, the iconic Indian film industry, generates roughly Rs. 200 crore in ring tone revenues annually; with the 50 million mobile phone subscribers downloading approximately 3 lakh ring tones daily, according to trade experts!

Ring tone subscription has been a strategy that has caught the lame consumer absolutely unawares. A 'free sign up' usually leads to a couple of free ring tones initially and before one realizes, the user is charged fees for these continuous monthly services.

Ring tones now being played out by the masses, have been fine tuned to suit various advertising and marketing strategies, thereby generating additional revenue for the industry. Several companies in the North American market compose their popular product jingles as ring tones and send out the sound files to their target market. Personalization of ring tones has attracted even the big wigs of the music industry who have ventured into a series of launches of MP3 players that allows users to splice sections of songs for use as mobile phone ring tones. The costs attached to this service are almost peanuts as compared to that charged by leading ring tone providers and will eventually eat into their market in the long run.

Whilst, personalization is undoubtedly the domain of the future, it remains to be seen how this industry sorts piracy and royalty issues to protect the unique compositions of ring tone artists.

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