Ring tones have grown into a Rs. 200 crore business. Surprised? Video tones and background music are only set to ring the cash registers further. SANGEETHA DEVI. K reports
Your music on the go has just taken a giant leap. The omnipresent ring tones notwithstanding, video tones are here. And soon, we'll have background music (or BGMs) while we talk on the cell phone. The new variants will take a while to catch up with cell phone users, but the music industry has woken up to the enormity of ring tones. Since the right marketing is what it takes and visibility or `audibility' can make your ring tones a hit, even regional film producers are all out to publicise ring tones. A case in point is film-maker Neelakanta's Nandanavanam 120 km. Alongside the audio release, the makers also launched the ring tones.
A threat to cassettes?
"The download of regional ring tones is growing. Those who market their tones will stand a chance of having more downloads. Regional tones are over a couple of years old," says Savio D'Souza, Secretary General, Indian Music Industry (IMI). Data from the IMI indicates that at least five lakh ring tones are downloaded per day in India, generating Rs. 200 crore annually. The size of the music industry (read cassettes and CDs) has reduced by Rs. 500 crore as a result.Analysts feel that this is a natural progression. D'Souza explains, "Just like we switched to listening to music through audio cassettes, CDs and I-pods from the earlier record players, mobile phone music will co-exist with other forms."Realising this popularity of ring tones, service providers and music companies are working towards popularising classical music ring tones. Though one such service is in place, there are further plans. "Film music constitutes 80 per cent of downloads. But alongside, we'll be looking to promote Hindustani, Carnatic and devotional music for cell phone users, says Atul Churamani, Vice President, publishing and new media, Sa Re Ga Ma.The next developments are video tones and background music. One of the first video tones, Lady Chatterjee, is already drawing users. Video tones are ring tones that come with video clips and let you see the clips whenever you receive a call. And the BGM service, yet to take off in India, will let you play a song of your choice while you talk to a friend. While video tunes work well only with 3G and 4G phones, BGMs can work on any phone. "The volume and the tune of BGMs can map your moods and requirements. If you're chilling out at a pub and want to act as if you are caught in traffic, choose a BGM of a traffic jam while talking to your mom," says Savinder Sarma, head of marketing, Cellebrum.
What's your tune?
Music companies that were at war with service providers for revenues from ring tones are eyeing newer business models. Today, if you spend Rs. 10 to download a tone, a large portion goes to service providers. About 20 to 25 per cent goes to music companies and composers. Now, film-makers let their ring tones speak for their films. Farah Khan used the Main Hoon Na ring tone for a long time after the film's release. Likewise, Telugu film-maker Sekhar Kammula's caller back tune is a song from Anand. As Savinder sums up, "Regional tones constitute 30 to 35 per cent of downloads in the south and this will only increase."
Choose your pick
* Nearly five lakh ring tones are downloaded per day.* Video tones and BGMs are the next big things.* Efforts are on to popularise classical music tones.