Research has revealed that ringtones are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Data shows that downloads have dropped by a quarter in recent years, more than a decade after Crazy Frog earned its Swedish creator £40 million following its launch in 2004.According to experts, ringtones are now mainly used by older and middle-aged people, and the sound of mobile phones in public will soon become a social “misstep”. Musical ringtones, those sound signifiers, are increasingly being silenced.At the same time, much was done with sales of millions of dollars in ringtones that were invested in a grateful music industry struggling to adjust to the digital age. Service providers earned a share of sales and largely controlled distribution, while the music industry charged licensing fees for ringtones based on popular songs.
Those who still use musical ringtones can appreciate not only their sound, but also what they say about who chooses them. Ringtones were popular in part because they were one of the first audio products accessible via mobile phones, said Richard Conlon, senior vice president of corporate strategy, communications and new media at Broadcast Music Inc.A new Billboard ringtone list listed the most popular songs. 50 Cent's “In Da Club” was awarded Billboard's first Ringtone of the Year in 2004.Let's take a moment to fully appreciate this specific moment in the history of music with a playlist of some of the most popular ringtones of the time. Mobile phone users may not think much about them, but the gradual decline in the once lucrative ringtone has been bittersweet for people in the music industry.