The first ringtones chart to be recognized by the U.K. industry will launch May 31. The bi-weekly top 20 will be overseen by global trade organization the Mobile Entertainment Forum and compiled by ac

The first ringtones chart to be recognized by the U.K. industry will launch May 31. The bi-weekly top 20 will be overseen by global trade organization the Mobile Entertainment Forum and compiled by accounting firm KPMG.

The chart will be compiled with data from several of the major content aggregators in the market, including Amplefuture, Musiwave and InfoMedia. The idea for a regular survey of the most popular ringtones in this highly lucrative market was instigated last year by David Simmons, CEO of music rights and publishing company Songseekers, and head of the MEF Ringtones Initiative.

While the MEF acknowledges that the chart's research base is by no means exhaustive, Simmons says he is hopeful that by year's end, it will track 70%-80% of the U.K. market. He is targeting involvement by the end of 2004 of "all the network operators and about 25 aggregators."

Billboard.biz understands that while test charts have revealed strong sales for ringtones based on several current singles chart hits, research also shows the popularity of a number of catalog hits and television themes including "The Simpsons" and "Mission Impossible."

Ralph Simon, Los Angeles-based chairman of the MEF, sees the launch of the chart as another step in the music industry's embrace of the mobile market. He tells Billboard.biz: "With 500 million new handsets set to be sold [worldwide] this year, and with music being a key feature for mobile users, it's an area that no label, indie or major, can afford to ignore."

Billboard.biz understands that the Official U.K. Charts Company (OCC) is in the process of finalizing a deal to be the sole licensor of the chart. The OCC compiles the country's singles and albums sales charts.

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