Starting with a ho-hum story about a rapper who sells more ringtone than singles, Reuters gets into some interesting parts of the music industry. Rapper T-Pain said ringtone sales forced his label to support his first album: “I had people at Jive tell me they didn’t believe in my product and let me know that they didn’t too much care,” he said at the time. “But selling 6.7 million ringtone (for “Stripper” and another single, “I’m Sprung,” combined) changed their minds.”
Rappers do tend to sell a lot of ringtone, as opposed to pop acts which are strong on downloads and country music, which is strong on physical sales. Jeff Dodes, senior vice president of Jive Records’ digital business unit, said ringtone make up about 40 percent of major labels’ digital revenue, and as such are too important to leave to chance. “Every element of a ringtone is closely studied — from which portion of the song is used, to when it is released to wireless operators, to how many subsequent remixes of the track are created to maintain sales momentum.” Ringtones also have a strong relationship with radio, which is why there aren’t many huge “ringtone only” songs. Remixes are also popular (and easier than remixing a whole song, I’m guessing), though I’m not sure if remixes are counted as the one song or counted separately.