“I’ve seen the future and it’s ringtones”.
Faced with the near-death of the CD single and a year-on-year decline in physical music sales, Sony BMG has invented a new format which aims to cash in on the popularity of mobile phone ringtones. The CD “ringle”, reports Billboard, will contain three tracks — a new release and an older song or remix, along with one ringtone.
A few other take-aways from Billboard’s coverage:
- Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group will be the first to offer the new format.
- Sony BMG will release 50 titles during October and November, while UMG will have anywhere from 10 to 20 titles ready [though no release date is specified].
- The Recording Industry Association of America has approved the “ringle” name, and there is an industry-wide logo to help brand it.
- Although sold on a CD, the ringtone part of the product will have to be redeemed over the Internet, and so far only Sony has “cut a deal with a digital aggregator”.
- The “ringle” will carry either a $5.98 or $6.98 list price.
- Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Amazon have agreed to support the new format.
Will the “ringle” be a success?
On the surface, the idea may not be a bad one; ringtones are a popular format and could certainly give some much needed life support to the dying CD single. However, I can see two things working against the “ringle”: pricing and convenience.
At around six dollars a pop, the CD “ringle” may find it hard to compete against digital downloads, both over-the-air ringtones, and individual tracks from the various online music stores. For example, one track and corresponding ringtone from Apple’s iTunes store, totals $1.98.
On the issue of convenience, since the ringtone part of the CD “ringle” has to be redeemed over the Internet anyway, it’s hard to see why consumers would go to the trouble of buying a CD, connecting to the net, and then finally transferring the ringtone to their mobile phone.