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Coldplay single to be heard first on phones

Labels, Cingular agree to release singles as ring tones before songs hit shelves.

Cingular Wireless is launching a new promotion it hopes will make the charts, offering singles from top bands as ring tones even before they've been released.

The program is launching with a new song from British band Coldplay from EMI Group's Capitol Records, but other labels will be included over time.

The aim is to draw attention to ring tones as a way to promote albums before their release.

"We are always looking for new and innovative ways to deliver music to fans," said Capitol Records CEO Andrew Slater. Cingular's program "is a great vehicle for helping fans to make an immediate connection with an artist."

The deal is part of a growing eagerness on the part of record labels and wireless phone carriers to work together; the two industries see their interests becoming increasingly intertwined.

Labels want to make up for falling CD sales figures, and to date, digital-song stores like Apple Computer's iTunes have filled only part of the gap. The strong interest worldwide in ring tones has led the labels to see the prospects of new profit potential.

John Burbank, Cingular vice president of marketing, said the program came out of discussions with Coldplay's manager, who was looking for an original way to promote the band's new album. The wireless carrier afterwards took the idea to other record labels, which also agreed to provide content for the program.

The Coldplay ring tone, drawn from the upcoming single "Speed of Sound," can be accessed by Cingular subscribers on the company's Web site. The song isn't due to hit radio airwaves until April 18, and the album won't be released until June.