How did the ringtone transform from a functional component on a mobile phone into a device for playing back music? For numerous possible reasons, such as the increasing presence of confusing (and ostensibly irritating) cell phone rings in public and, more significantly, mobile handset designers’ development of a novelty technology, during the mid–late 1990s cell phone manufacturers began to include simple melodies and sound effects (or monophonic ringtones) as preset options for their phones . With the massive growth in global mobile telephony in those years, particularly in Europe and Asia, mobile phone manufacturers began to include features on handsets that would encourage phone customization, and companies like Nokia introduced phones that could play newly uploaded ringtones. In particular, Nokia designed the uploadable ringtone by encoding it through a previously developed variant of the messaging system called the Short Messaging Service (SMS) — the same system now used worldwide to send text messages . As early as 1998, small phone shops in Hong Kong were selling pirated ringtones, “often charging [US]$10 for a 15–second ring” . In July 1999, a 23–year–old college graduate based in Nottingham, England named James Winsoar took advantage of this new technology and began to compose new ringtones, first selling them to customers individually online and eventually automating the delivery system. Originally naming his company My Nokia, he changed its name to Phat Tonez and initiated a national phenomenon in the United Kingdom . Numerous small companies began imitating Winsoar’s model, in some cases switching over to ringtone production from providing phone sex lines . Meanwhile, ringtone providers’ increasing use of (copyrighted) popular music meant that music publishers were licensing material for ringtones and receiving royalties — thus planting the seed for the music industry’s plan of trying to make up financial losses due to file sharing, which became popular at roughly the same time. Soon, the phenomenon was widespread in Europe and Asia, with the United States market developing a few years behind.
By 2000, cell phone manufacturers had developed and mass–marketed a polyphonic ringtone capacity, or the ability to make multiple, relatively sophisticated sounds at once rather than a single beeping melody. Unlike monophonic ringtones, which used simple text languages to encode simple melodies or sound effects , polyphonic ringtones involved sending an encoded set of instructions to an in–built synthesizer using one of several variants of the Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) protocol . Polyphonic ringtones produce music straddling a fine line between video game music and elevator music; effectively, this is synthesized instrumental music, because the phone’s synthesizer cannot accurately produce the sound of human voices. Since its appearance over four years ago, the polyphonic ringtone has spread steadily and has now all but replaced the monophonic ringtone. Whereas in November 2000 only 9.2 percent of handsets worldwide could produce polyphone ringtones, by November 2003 66.1 percent had this capacity, according to a survey conducted by the NPD Group .
Perhaps a stronger threat to the profitability of the ringtone industry lies in the development of strategies and technologies by consumers and companies to create ringtones at inexpensive prices. Ringtone piracy by small companies and individual users, in the manner of MP3 files, is rampant worldwide, particularly in Asia — where music piracy in many forms is widespread . In this case, ringtone Web sites are selling ringtones based on copyrighted material at low prices without paying licensing fees to music publishers or record labels. With the appearance of the sound file ringtone, the potential for free duplication of ringtones seems limitless, as it could easily follow the MP3 model of peer–to–peer distribution. Despite the much–vaunted ability of the cell phone to monitor and control individual transactions — which is not equally true of Internet activities — some software companies are creating products for combining peer–to–peer file sharing with ringtone creation . Furthermore, even legal enterprises have produced technologies that threaten ringtone consumption. Xingtone, a company founded in early 2003 and based in Los Angeles, has produced a downloadable computer program that allows an individual to transform any sound file (from a CD or an MP3, for example) into a sound file ringtone. After a consumer pays the one–time fee of US$15 for the software, she can easily produce ringtones for her phone without any further cost. Brad Zutaut, the CEO and co–founder of the small company, has stated repeatedly (with the support of the Recording Industry Association of America) that the program falls under the domain of fair use in copyright law. Beginning his enterprise from the impulse of wanting to make ringtones that were not commercially available, Zutaut argues that ringtones, which are merely data transfers, should not be so expensive and that “ring tones are not going to save the music industry” . The company seems to have been successful and has pioneered music promotion deals with record labels like Disney’s Hollywood records and the independent Artemis Records (whose band Sugarcult released a single from its album via ringtone in partnership with Xingtone). More recently, Xingtone has received financial support from Siemens to expand its operations . Although Zutaut has stated that the company has a three– to five–year window, it is unclear whether Xingtone will be bought out by a major media or entertainment conglomerate — whose business interests might seem to conflict with those of the company . Other companies such as ToneThis (also from LA) have followed Xingtone’s lead and are producing similar software packages . Since the software in question has appeared recently and only affects sound file ringtones, it remains to be seen whether it, or pirated versions thereof, will have an impact on global ringtone sales or prices. It certainly is the case that piracy generally eats into ringtone sales — for example, an estimated 90 percent of ringtones in Malaysia are pirated — and the recording industry is attempting to forestall further declines in profits by eradicating what it refers to as a piracy “epidemic” .
As described above, the commodification of the ringtone has occurred in several stages. These stages provide the outline of a model for ringtone development, whereby functional tones become: 1) monophonic ringtones or simple melodies; 2) polyphonic tones (MIDI synthesizer music); and, 3) digital sound files (True Tones or other company–specific formats, and ultimately MP3 files). These developments in the ringtone have not progressed uniformly around the world. Instead, particular convergences of national legal systems, consumer preferences, and the interests of local wireless firms and handset manufacturers have led to differing rates of acceptance for each type of ringtone, as well as ringtones generally. For example, the high rates of cell phone use in Asia have led to particularly enthusiastic adoption of both older and newer forms of ringtones. South Korea is a striking case. Seventy percent of the population owns cell phones, the ring–back tone was pioneered there, and mobile music sales (estimated at 400 billion Won or US$336 million in 2003, increasing 400 percent in one year) seem to be quickly replacing recorded music sales (193.5 billion Won or US$162.4 million in 2003, declining 30 percent in a year). When Ricky Martin’s new Spanish language album was about to be released in May 2003, the South Korean director of Sony (Korea) Yang Beom–joon, released the album six days ahead of schedule in ringtone form. This precipitated a rush of downloading in which over 100,000 downloads of album-track sound file ringtones and related materials occurred in a few weeks. In Japan, the massive mobile music market (estimated at US$900 million in 2003) seems to be saturated with polyphonic ringtones and has been steadily shifting to sound file ringtones. In Europe, many of the older cell phone markets (as in the U.K., Spain, France, Germany, and Italy) are focused on polyphonic ringtones and seem less inclined to switch to sound file ringtones. Paradoxically, regions that have been slower to adopt mobile telephony, as in Central and Eastern Europe, are adopting the newest technologies and thus seem to be more amenable to sound file ringtones. The U.S. market has been generally slow to adopt ringtones, although they seem to be popular within particular ethnic communities — African–Americans seem to have been among the more avid consumers of ringtones, a tendency perhaps reflected in the presence of cell phone references in hip–hop and R&B, as have been Latino/as . The fragmentation of the mobile telephone market, incompatible networks, the delay in providing 3G services, and the bill structure of calling (American cell phone users pay to make and receive calls) are all factors in hindering cell phone use in the U.S., which predictably correlates with ringtone consumption. Moreover, the U.S. demonstrates a resilient culture of computer and Internet use, making rare the use of services like text messaging (which have become significant cultural phenomena elsewhere) .
Specialising in Hip Hop and Rap music you will produce Nokring RTTTL format and SP MIDI polyphonic ringtones (4 note polyphony) by listening to the original music and copying it by ear. You should be able to copy the rhythm, bass lines and melody with no wrong notes. You will be paid £10 per ringtone on a self–employed basis.”  2b1af7f3a8