Blog Post

Mobile Music Conference 2004 : Day 1

Day 1 – Today was part one of the Mobile Music Conference and provided an excellent cross section of keynote speeches by major industry executives as well as several brief industry spotlights from some innovative players in the space (i.e. 9Squared, Nellymoser, Retro Ringtones, Chaoticom, Sony BMG Music, Upoc Networks.)

The first keynote speaker was Les Bider, Chairman and CEO, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., which is Warner Music Group’s award-winning music publishing company that currently administers more than one million copyrights. He stated that the mobile music business is primarily about ‘creativity , technology , commerce, and portability’ and that mobile devices will soon ‘lead the music industry to its recovery.’ The newer mobile technologies such as ringbacks, downloading and streaming to the handset will obviously spur this growth.

While there are many projections being given about the industrys future growth potential, differing greatly depending on which analyst you ask , according to Bider , ‘the current retail value of worldwide ringtones is currently 3-5 billion.’ Everyone at the event seemed to agree that this number will be exponentially better by 2008. Bider also predicted that sometime soon we are going to see every handset delivering the potential to become a retail outlet – effectively dwarfing the actual number of physical retail stores. Bider also sees cellular phones as eventually becoming ‘virtual ATMs’ for the company, but before this can happen – several industry hurdles need to be overcome such as:

  • The administrative difficulty of dealing with songs have more than 1 owner (i.e. multiple copyright holders)
  • The market offers multiple places to buy ringtones (depending on which handset you have)
  • Different national royalty rates and collection organizations
  • Piracy via grey market ringtone providers (As fractured as the industry is with all the individual players, we all have 1 common enemy which is the illegitimate market.)
  • Enable technology companies to attract consumers; deliver value to consumers and artists

Bider admitted that overall competition for consumers attention is getting tougher in the mobile space, but one thing that could help the industry would be to come up a with a standardized naming convention. For example, several members of a later panel admitted calling ‘ring tones’ various names such as: master tones, master tracks, sound clips, true tones, music tones, song tones, real music tones, pieces of songs, real tones, etc. This obviously is confusing many potential customers.

He ended his presentation with some good news for the music industry, noting that one result of the Apple iPod phenomenon is that it has led to an overall heightened awareness of music in society – which in the long run will only help the mobile music industry. Also mentioned is an interesting emerging trend, which is the delivery of hit singles being released by the record labels to the cellular market before they hit radio and the fact that many insiders feel that the various flavors of ringtones are becoming the new single of the future. Stay tuned for more coverage!

J.J. Rosen – SONY BMG

Thomas Dolby_Retro Ringtones

Todd Beals is a multimedia producer and consultant who is currently the senior digital media analyst with where he publishes The Beals Media Update. He will be guest blogging on location this week from the Mobile Music Conference 2004 (MMC) being held in South Beach, Miami, FL from Nov. 18-19 at the Ritz Carlton. (The opinions expressed in his blogs are his own and not necessarily those of Paid or You can reach Todd by e-mailing him at beals…at…