Introduced six years ago in the United States, mobile ringtones have become one of the market's most significant agents of change in the music business.





Ralph Simon is chairman of the Mobile Entertainment Forum-Americas and CEO of Mobilium, a Los Angeles- and London-based mobile entertainment consultancy.





Introduced six years ago in the United States, mobile ringtones have become one of the market's most significant agents of change in the music business.

Entering what was then a far more uncertain and beleaguered time in the record industry -- with the digital future feared rather than favored -- mobile has helped lift some of the veil of doom by establishing a new distribution and creative channel. The result? Tens of millions of dollars in new revenue for record labels, music publishers and mobile publishers/aggregators.

But most major and indie labels seem to have paid little attention to how artists, producers and managers become educated in creating mobile music and content footprints that resonate with millions of U.S. mobile phone subscribers.

While some commentators contend the ringtone business is dying, quite the contrary seems to be true when discussing the issue with artists and songwriters.

Savvy acts that understand their core audience have realized that by creating unique ringtones and mobile music derivatives, they can enhance their direct linkage with fans and prepare the path for widening album sales.

Are A&R executives guiding young acts well in this new area? Evidence seems to reflect that traditional approaches to making an album need to change to incorporate mobile thinking -- right at the time of production. When preparing the final mixes for the singles on an album, it should become natural for acts to try to make at least five ringtones per single. This new thinking of creating mini-content equates to the special radio mixes that might have been the norm two decades ago.

With ringtones not showing any decrease in popularity around the world, it is time for producers and artists to properly enforce their creative imprimatur and "mobilize." While mobile knowledge remains a developing objective for most music professionals, mobile music buyers with the latest mobile phone technology will certainly want to experience special music tracks, videoclips and mixes on their phones. If the mobile music derivative is cool, they will get their friends and fellow fans to buy more of the mobile offerings. That is good news!

Similar thinking needs to be used when making promo videos. Progressive labels are shooting extra behind-the-scenes and close-up footage for mobile-only videos.

If artists and managers recognize the need to produce great mobile content, ringtone royalties will keep growing. They can also use mobile as a tool to widen their audience domestically and internationally and further enhance the link between their music and their consumer "community."





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