The new CD single "Baby" from rapper Fabolous allows U.K. consumers to choose which part of the song they want to use as a mobile phone ringtone. Until now, the 30-second ringtone clips packaged with singles have been pre-determined by record companies. The Fabolous single from Warner's Atlantic Records includes built-in software that lets listeners isolate any part of the song and load it onto their phones. Other products show the extent to which consumers will be able to manipulate music. A U.S. company, Magix Ringtones, performs similar functions for under $30.
The most aggressive of these products is Umixit, backed by record producer Don DeVito, which allows users to remix a record’s tracks that have been submixed into stems and included on a CD. Aerosmith, Joe Perry and Moby have already signed on.
According to New York marketing firm Consect, ringtones generated $4 billion in 2004 globally – around 10 percent of the world’s music market revenues.
Implications for broadcast are significant: Just as the iPod/download combination allows customized music caches, this next generation of products personalizes that same music and further enables cell phones to used as music distribution devices.