In recent years there has been marked and continuous growth in the ringtone market. One indication of the market’s maturity is the number of free ringtone options that are widely available. The ringtone market is clearly at the point where it has to be taken seriously as it now accounts for more than ten percent of the music market on a global scale. The ringtone market is currently larger than the ever shrinking CD market. The growth of this sub-industry and its impact on the bottom line of the media companies has happened faster than industry analysts had been predicting.
Because of market forces and their impact on the bottom line, the music business clearly cannot afford to ignore the ringtone market. More than half of widely available downloadable ringtones contain influences from the hip hop industry. That market demographic is driven by youth culture. The proliferation of cell phone ownership by the young and the important role of music in youth culture have been driving forces that have created a boom in the ringtone business from 1995 to 2010.
Ringtones are becoming less and less a niche product for media companies as many in the industry realize that the economics at play favor the inclusion of ringtones in their product mix.
As the major music industry companies and the major phone manufacturers all come to recognize the importance of this growing market, it will become more competitive. The smaller industry players will have to offer more innovative products and continue to find a niche audiences and then develop a targeting strategy for these potential customers.
As competition in the market heats up, there has also been a proliferation of the number of places and the number of companies that offer ringtones for free. The success story for the nascent ringtone industry is happening in spite of the wide availability of free ringtones.