Well Jingle my 'Ringle': RIAA's Answer to the Ringtone

By Mike on 4:40 pm

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How much would you pay for a ringtone for your cell phone? That little 10 second musical number, perhaps part of your favourite song, that tells you you've got a call. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) seems to think that $6 - $7 US is a fair price. Well, to be fair, the 'Ringle' (as RIAA likes to call it) comes on a CD single. Basically the term "ringle" was coined as a combination of ringtone and single. So for this, you get one or two songs, and a 10 second remix for your cell phone. By contrast, songs off iTunes are $1.39 for unprotected MP3 versions. Meaning you could purchase five songs for the price of one ringle and then mix your own ringtone from one of them.

The ringle is a classic example of what goes on behind the scenes of RIAA. This particular organization has sparked a lot of controversy lately due to claims of overpriced products, use of intrusive digital rights management, and questionable lawsuits against their own customers. The RIAA, for the most part, has ignored market trends. Most people prefer unprotected digital audio formats such as MP3 while audiophiles prefer vinyl records or DVD Audio. The CD itself has been dying a slow death, something the RIAA likes to attribute to "illegal" file sharing, but it's rather due to these changing trends. The ringle is a last ditch attempt to try and jump start CD sales. Up until today, I did not even know that CD singles were available. I've never seen them in stores or for sale online. The MP3 is the new single.
I think the ringle will fail, and the RIAA will likely attribute that failure to file sharing as they always do. Few people are going to pay half the price of an entire album for one song and a 10 sec audio clip, even if it is of higher quality than MP3. The music industry has dug itself into a hole. This has become increasingly clearer as time wears on. If the record labels were smart, they'd disband the RIAA and start offering customers what they want. But they aren't smart and that's why they'll continue to loose money.

It's amazing that the people who have the most to benefit from the new digital age are also the ones most resistant to it.

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