Warner Ringtones on Skype VoIP

Next time your Skype phone rings, let Madonna answer.

Warner Music
Group today inked an agreement with Skype making the material girl
its first
featured artist available for downloadable ringtones at its online store..

Ringtones from current and future
Madonna hits can be downloaded for $1.50, according to Warner
spokesperson Amanda Collins.

“We are excited that more than 70 million Skype users around the
world will now have the ability to enjoy content from Warner Music
artists,” Alex Zubillag, executive vice president of digital strategy and
business development at Warner Music Group, said in a statement. The agreement marks the
entertainment company’s commitment to new avenues for music, according
to Zubillag.

Revenue from ringtones is expected to reach $724 million by 2009,
according to Jupiter Research. (Jupiter Research and internetnews.com
share the same parent company.) Worldwide sales of ringtones accounts
for 36 percent of $1.10 billion earned from digital music, according to
the International Federation of Phonographic Industries.

Following Madonna, Warner Music Group will offer Green Day, Mike Jones, Paul Wall, D4L, and T.I.

“As Skype continues to grow as a mass market phenomena, we are excited
to partner with industry leaders in the entertainment industry, like
Warner Music, to offer great content from artists, such as Madonna, to
Skype’s fast growing global user base,” said Saul Klein, vice president
worldwide marketing for Skype, in a statement.

“The prospects are limited,” Dave Chamberlain, principal
wireless analyst at In-Stat, told internetnews.com. “However, there is no reason why ringtones
should live only in the cell phone,” he said.

Skype’s subscribers are likely the perfect audience for ringtones,
according to the analyst. Skype users “are probably in good demographics”
for Warner Music Group.

But those same demographics could pose trouble for music companies.
Skype users are more technical and are likely to use MP3-based music on
their PCs, Chamberlain said.

While ringtones for the 2 billion cell phone users could reach beyond
$700 million by 2009, the same level of success can’t be guaranteed with
VoIP, according to the analyst. “It’s not going to show up on the
corporate balance sheet,” said Chamberlain.

The analyst said commercial ringtones on VoIP handsets is just
another avenue for distribution, just like CDs on boxes of cereal.

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