In the latest signal that cell phones and two-way pagers are becoming increasingly attractive tools for music promotion and commerce in the U.S., Loud Records is offering the tunes off upcoming albums

In the latest signal that cell phones and two-way pagers are becoming increasingly attractive tools for music promotion and commerce in the U.S., Loud Records is offering the tunes off upcoming albums by Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep as free ringtones, Billboard Bulletin reports.

The tracks "Hey Luv" and "Burn" from Mobb Deep's release "Infamy," out tomorrow (Dec. 11), and the tracks "(Uzi) Pinky Ring," "Rules," and "Ya'll Been Warned" from Wu-Tang's "Iron Flag," due Dec. 18, are available as ringtones at mobile entertainment portal Zingy.com. The deal is said to be the first in the U.S. in which music has premiered for use on mobile phones before the album is released.

"Cell phones are so widely used that ringtones are one of the best ways to promote our music," Loud Records chairman Steven Rifkind says in a statement. Ringtone sales this year are reported to top $200 million worldwide, thanks to strong adoption in Japan and Scandinavia and growing popularity elsewhere in Europe. However, the concept is still in its infancy in the U.S., where ringtones are often offered for free through programs like the Loud promotion.

Last month, Sony Music Entertainment began selling ringtones in the U.S. through wireless.sonymusic.com. The company intends to offer graphics and other mobile messaging content through the site and has ringtone Web sites in development for international markets.

Ringtones have proved especially popular among teenagers. In making his announcement, Rifkind cites research that claims that 82% of 14- to 16-year-olds own a mobile phone.

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