Thursday, August 10, 2006

Rap Ringtone sets new record - we are how we ring.

Chamillionaire has sold 3 million ringtones, and counting, of the song Ridin’. Cha Ching Chamillionaire. Parent company, Universal Music Group, could not be prouder at $2.50 a download. Yes, that is $7.5 million dollars worth of rings to be heard near you. Most likely they will interrupt a movie, meal or other gathering. They will not likely interrupt a keynoter at a business conference or any lawn bowling tournements for that matter, but here’s hoping ; )

There was a time not too long ago when technology itself told a story about who we were as individuals. Being the first kid on the block with an Atari or Intellivision meant something. The first to have a computer, microwave oven, cell-phone or VCR etc. really spoke to an individual’s individuality - simply possessing new gadgetry defined who you were. Things are much different now.

In today’s world it is the ability for consumers (especially younger ones) to personalize devices and gadgets to fit who they are- that is the big thing. Be it wallpaper, emoticoms, ringtunes, fonts, custom feeds etc., the way we express who we are as individuals is embedded in how we customize our most used - even prized - possessions. We really are how we ring.

This is simply expressive evolution. Comparable to when I had a KISS Army patch sewn onto my jean jacket and expressed myself on my sleeve (yes, I am that old and geeky). Is this any different then when when we put stickers on textbooks in high school? There is no doubt if I had a cell phone in 1977 that Detroit Rock City would have been loaded up.

Now, Chamillionaire will not be downloaded by me - ever. That fact alone may serve the “Cham-brand” quite well because there is nothing worse for a rapper’s street-cred than some white-bread Joe with a couple of kids who's trying to look all gangsta with a hardcore ring. All wrong.

I’ll close out today with my prediction that ringtones are where Chris Anderson’s Long Tail could really take hold. Crazy amounts of unique/niche content that is low cost and readily accessible for anyone to use to express themselves. And, I don’t think we are even close to a tipping point with ringtones and the like.

However, I am certain that if I ever hear the Ray Conniff Singers ringing on a cell phone, I will know two things right away; a) the long tail theory has fully matured and, b) one of my grandparents has managed to annoy me from the heavens.

So, how do you ring dawg?

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At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Rob Fields said...

I'm just starting to read The Long Tail, but I wonder the extent to which niches need to be helped along by some kind of upfront marketing push. I mean, Cham's story would be significantly different if he wasn't on the radio or in video rotation. Without this initial push, it's reasonable to expect that ringtone future sales might drop to zero. After all, a few--and I mean one, two or three--here and there don't add up to any significant revenue for the content creator.


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