Music Business May Want To Think Twice About Betting Big On Ringtone Market

Feb 19th, 2007 // 3 Comments

RotaryCell.jpgA recent look at the global wireless market
declared that the market for ringtones has peaked, a statistic which should make many record executives nervous: The mobile music business–which also includes ringbacks (song-snippets callers hear instead of dial tones) and full songs–is projected to bring in as much as $9 billion this year, and ringtones, which in most cases cost two to three times the price of a full song at digital music stores like iTunes, make up a big part of that market.

While it’s somewhat surprising that the ringtone market has reached its highest point so quickly, it always seemed, to us, like a market that wasn’t built to last; sure, we indulged in a few capricious purchases in the past (that monophonic version of Winger’s “Seventeen” helped our old Nokia stick out in a crowd), but we grew out of it, electing instead to spend our money on slightly nerdier phone accoutrements. Given that customers have been reluctant about paying for any music lately, the idea that they’d save the music business by navigating through poorly laid out cell-phone menus in order to pay a premium for low-quality snippets of current pop songs (and “Because I Got High”) is pretty misguided. Then again, this is an industry that thought the too stupid to remember their favorite songs’ names market was worth tapping, so maybe we’re giving them too much credit.

Wireless carries face subscriber slowdown [DigiTimes Telecom, via Listening Post]
Mobile Music Downloads Need Improvements [TMCNet]
Earlier: Cingular Ad Targets Demographic Of People Who Have No Idea What They Are Buying


  1. Jude

    Haven’t we reached the point where we can safely conclude that a song is no longer a song once it becomes some fucktard’s ringtone? Doesn’t it speak more so for the need for attention rather than musical preference? Seriously annoying.

  2. mackro

    I’ll defer to John Cage here, re: point above.

    Anyway, the ringtone market is dying probably because cell phones in the near future will be able to play the very Mp3s we hear on our iPods.

    The cell phone will become more important than ever. However, the concept of a ringtone is going to become obsolete once they become full Mp3s anyway.

  3. SomeAudioGuy

    While I am loathe to admit it, the iPhone should usher in a new era where it should be fisher-price simple to use any song on your device as a ringtone. I’ve been doing it on my smartphone for a while now, but only because I like to futz with audio AND electronics, and now the masses should be able to as well.

    Really do you buy a song for your iPhone for .99, and THEN buy a crappier version of the same song AGAIN for 1.99 (or more) for a ringtone?

    The Ringtone market is dead!

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