Original Music Created Specifically for Ringtones

Posted on April 24, 2006

The CS Monitor reports that a company named Start Mobile is going to start selling 60-second original music compositions for use as ringtones.

Sometime in the next week, Start Mobile will launch a service that lets customers download what founder John Doffing calls M60s - 60-second original compositions by emerging musicians created specifically for mobile phones. The hundreds of songs at startmobile.net will range in style from hip-hop and reggae to experimental jazz and electronica.

Ringtones continue to be big business in the US. At up to $3 for a 20-second song, they account for 10 percent of the music industry's revenue, according to Roger Entner of Ovum, a consulting company with offices in Boston.

Mr. Doffing hasn't yet settled on a fee structure for the M60s. He says they will be free for the first 60 days following the site's launch. After that, he envisions a monthly subscription service that will buy a set number of songs and let users switch out ringtones to "curate the content" of their phones. It's an apt metaphor for a company originally founded as a way to turn cellphones into mini-mobile art galleries. Start Mobile was formed in December to make original artwork by emerging and underground artists available as phone "wallpaper." The artists earn a percentage of each sale, as will musicians.

Start Mobile's website also sells mobile wallpaper so they are used to dealing with multiple transactions involving small fees. No price has yet been set for the ringtones. The Monitor also notes that artists may find the short tunes challenging: "For musicians, composing a ringtone presents the unique challenge of developing a complete work that lasts no longer than a minute."