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Tech Industry

Ring tones jump from PCs to CDs

In a first for the cell phone ring tone industry, a record label is now including on some albums software to assemble digital recordings into custom tones.

In a first for the cell phone ring tone industry, a record label is now including on some albums software to assemble digital recordings into custom tones.

Once loaded onto someone's personal computer, the ring tone assembly software works with the tracks on "Palm Trees and Power Lines," the latest album from Artemis Records artist Sugarcult. People who want to use the software to turn any recording on the computer into a ring tone must first pay $15 for the full software, supplied by Xingtone. Xingtone and Artemis split the revenue. Until now, the only way to get Xingtone software was through a Web download.

The deal is a sign of the increasing importance the entertainment industry has put on using ring tones to market their artists' products, rather than try to earn millions by selling song snippets to replace a phone's prepackaged ring. The cost of setting up and operating ring tone sales can't yet be justified by the relatively few ring tones that are sold each month. But by giving some away for free, as Artemis is doing with Xingtone, labels at least get some marketing bang.

"For the major, it's better to use ring tones as a promotional vehicle than one to make sales," said a source familiar with the Xingtone-Artemis deal, which is expected to be officially announced Thursday.

Artemis is the second label to employ Xingtone. Walt Disney-owned Hollywood Records has struck a deal with the company to take care of online distribution of free ring tones and images of Hollywood Records artists The Polyphonic Spree, Hilary Duff and Josh Kelley, as part of the record label's marketing push to music fans that own cell phones.