New York (NY) – The Billboard Information Group, which has been responsible for certifying America’s top music hits in multiple genres for decades, announced today its plans to publish, on a weekly basis, a chart of the Top 20 mobile phone master ringtones. Drawing data from Nielsen Mobile, Hot MasterTones will chart titles, artists, previous week’s position, and number of weeks on the chart, just like traditional Top 40 music charts, but instead for tracks downloaded for use as ringtones.
Master ringtones are miniature versions of full recordings, usually the first few seconds, sometimes remixed. An original song is re-mastered, and then downsampled for playback on a mobile phone. By comparison, ordinary ringtones are generally made up of portions of the song played back through the phone’s digital synthesizer. While older phones could only play simple musical notes, modern phones have larger storage capacities – especially those being leveraged as MP3 players.
While some people may balk at paying $15 dollars or more for a music CD, plenty of consumers seem to be be quite happy shelling out a few dollars for a master ringtone. It’s expected that the Hot MasterTones chart will track in line with the regular Billboard Top 40, because major record labels are now offering package deals that include both the original CD and a ringtone made from that CD.
The total US ringtone market is estimated to be around $500 million annually, and the global market is estimated to be worth $4.4 billion. Telephia, a mobile phone market research firm, estimates that around 60% of all ringtone revenues come from master tones.
The Hot MasterTones chart joins Billboard’s Hot Ringtones chart, launched two years ago to track the polyphonic and monophonic ringtones market.