Ringtones: Passing Craze, or Major Media Market?

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Free ringtones. Ringtone downloads. Getcher red hot ringtones here. You see ringtone downloads available all over the Internet these days, in some of the least likely places. “Would you like free ringtones with that?”

Ringtones had at one time seemed like a passing craze. When it became clear that it wasn’t passing, it still seemed like a craze. One need only look at the Crazy Frog ringtone phenomenpm to realize just how much of a craze it is. Earlier this year Crazy Frog ringtone downloads eclipsed downloads of the popular group ColdPlay’s chart-topping music by an astonishing 4 to 1!

Surprised? I was too, but ringtone purveyor Ringtones.It wasn’t. According to them, ringtones now account for more than 10% of the total music market, worldwide! Holy download, Batman, that’s a whole lot of ringtones!


Says Ringtones.It, “Few thought that the monophonic tones of the late 1990s would evolve into the multi-billion dollar market that exists today. But, following the advent of true polyphonic ringtones in 2003, the realisation of their potential has developed a fresh momentum.

Unable to ignore the ringtone market, the music business has come to embrace its future and its influence on youth culture. This is especially true of the hip-hop industry whose output makes-up more than half of all downloaded ringtones. Successful artists such as 50 Cent, Mariah Carey and Kanye West have all learnt that ringtones are by no means a niche product.”

I have to confess that I too have a custom ringtone on my cell phone. But somehow I think it speaks more to my nostalgia for the old days rather than my embracing the hip cool of the ringtone generation. My ringtone sounds like an old rotary desk-phone, not Maria Carey, 50 Cent, or a crazy frog. And somehow, I prefer it that way.

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