Apple looks to expand ringtone selection, introduce ringbacks, music sales over 3G with iPhone 2.0

Apple “has approached some of the major music labels to try to expand the variety of ringtones and other musical features available on the device, several label executives said last week. The negotiations are very active right now and a final deal has not been set, said the executives, who requested anonymity so as not to disrupt the ongoing talks,” Sual Hansell blogs for The New York Times. “‘They want a big launch in June,’ said one label executive familiar with the discussions.”

“Right now, Apple offers ringtones as a 99-cent upgrade to its regular 99-cent music tracks, but not all tracks can be converted into ringtones. Apple is looking to expand its inventory, the executives said,” Hansell reports.

“The company is also hoping to add answer tones, also known as ringback tones—songs that a caller hears instead of the “ring ring” sound while waiting for someone to answer. In some cases, these command an even higher wholesale price than ringtones,” Hansell reports.

“Also under discussion is whether Apple can sell songs from its iTunes store directly to iPhones over the cell-phone broadband network. With the next generation of phone expected to use much faster 3G technology, this is technically feasible. Here too, music labels argue that they should be paid more for an over-the-air download than a standard track bought over the internet, where the wholesale price is about 70 cents,” Hansell reports.

Hansell reports, “All sides understand the stakes are significant.”

Full article here.


  1. Everyone who works for a music label is a f**ing criminal. They don’t create anything, they have no talent, they have absolutely NOTHING to do with the music that we love. They are a completely unnecessary part of the music equation. Yet they think they are owed money for everything.

  2. Songs costing more over the data network rather than WiFi is patently absurd. It’s this contsant nickle-and-diming that drives people to piracy.

    The music industry will soon be about live performances, with albums becoming a way to move tickets. If the labels were smart – which they aren’t – they would be acquiring concert promotion companies and offering deals like the Live Nation model.

  3. Why don’t record exec see that to the rest of us their weird price demands simply look insane. I can understand if ATT wants to charge more if their cell system is used to download music instead of wi-fi internet. But what can justify the record companies charging more for the same product because it reaches the customer via an alternative channel?

  4. Is anyone surprised that the record labels want to charge more for over the air downloads for no particular reason? It’s ridiculous how much they want for ring tones and ringback tones. They aren’t even whole songs!!!

    The money-grubbing record companies deserve to go under.

  5. Hate to sound like a fanboy but this iPhone rollout is going to really storm the gates of the cell phone industry this time around.
    It will pass RIM with the second version of the smart phone but if Apple decides to enter the lower end market with a simplified phone…WOW.
    Personally I have my eyes on a Touch. Don’t need an expensive data plan for a phone. Give me a Touch with basic phone operation, cheap monthly plan, I’ll reconsider.

  6. The iTunes store over 3G must happen. It would be embarrassing to Apple if it didn’t. I think it would be even more embarrassing if they tried to charge you more while you were on 3G versus wi-fi.

    I just hope the new iPhone launch reveals some details about AT&T;’s 3G rollout plans. There’s way to many holes in their coverage right now. 99% of my travels are not covered in 3G. This is a BIG sticking point to upgrading to the new iPhone. I think there’s a significant amount of people who will not upgrade/purchase if they don’t have 3G in their area.

  7. @MacBill,
    Quite bitter this morning, eh? BUT you are 100% on the money! I share your vehemence. I just need a little java first to spark up my anger.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  8. Music labels also argue they should be paid every time a song is played, every time a song is added to a playlist, every time a song or artist is mentioned in broadcast media or casual conversation, and every time Susie Gherkins plays Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” during piano lessons.

    film at eleven.

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