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CELL PHONE RING
TONES OFF THE HOOK
Dial-a-Ditty Business Doing Surprisingly Well
Nobody really thinks about them, really, but everybody hears them—day after annoying day.

Download this to your combination pager/two-way/cell phone/PDA/pacemaker and smoke it: Ring tones (ring tunes?) are making money.

It seemed a joke to many, charging up to $1.50 or more for the right to download a snippet of a favorite song to your cell phone and hear it instead of a standard ring, especially since the idea had started out as a novelty freebie.

But the idea gained traction, as they say. And now, according to a Reuters report, the market for custom ring tones is upwards of $1 billion annually.

“This is probably the only upside for the music industry at the moment,” Reuters quoted one London analyst as saying, noting that $71 million in royalties had been collected in 2002—a 58% gain over the previous year. Ring tone royalties are typically in the 10-15% range.

And that’s not all. The market for ring tones is likely to grow, as new, polyphonic phones become more sophisticated and are able to play back better-sounding song snippets.

Wonder if Thomas D. Mottola’s phone plays “Maneater”?

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