Ringtones are a big business these days, a really big business, and we’re going to keep hearing annoucements like the recent Skype/Warner Music Group deal for awhile I expect. Many others have already commented on the illogical business model behind selling 30 second snippets of songs for more than the whole song costs (the Warner/Skype ringtones will go for $1.50 each, though there are lots of rumors that this deal is about more than audio snippets, and we may be seeing music videos being offered up to Skype users soon as part of this arrangement).
But not everyone is happy to plunk down their hard-earned cash for a ringtone, and a new project out of the MIT Media Lab will appeal to those who would like a crack at making their own. Wired is reporting that the new Hyperscore ringtone composition program is available for a free download, and will be included in the widely-touted MIT $100 laptop, which is to be handed out to thousands of school kids around the world next year. (Currently there is only a Windows version, but Mac and Linux versions are coming soon). The article highlights a recent ringtone composing competition using Hyperscore, that had U2’s the Edge as one of the judges.
I’m not sure I agree with Edge’s comment from the Wired article that “Ringtones are a legitimate branch of pop music…” but I’m happy to see some free alternatives cropping up in the ringtone arena.