Startup #81 – Ringtone Studio

First off, “Hello CLEEEEEVEEEELAAANNDDDD!” (Cue Spinal Tap). Thanks to Kevin for having me while he is on his matrimonial getaway. My name is Colin and I write the blog Tech(st)books, which you can get to by clicking on the link in the blogroll to your right. I offered my services to fill in and was glad when Kevin agreed to let me post a couple ideas. I look forward to seeing what you guys have to say. With any luck, we won’t burn down the house while he’s sunning in Maui. Let’s get started…



I conceived of this idea while considering how much time people waste on the computer doing things that have little (if any) value once the browser window is closed. Interactive entertainment – a la Desktop Tower Defense or Digg – is big business and despite the fact that there are a zillion different things you can do on the internet, most people will choose to do somethng fun over something productive 100 times out of 100.

Ringtone sales are serious business. I have no idea how many ringtones get sold out there every day, but it’s enough to justify a seemingly endless string of ads during “Flavor of Love” reruns offering to sell me T.I. or Fergie’s latest hit for a mere $1.99 a month. (I’ve been holding out for the music being played by the band in Star Wars at the Mos Eisley Cantina, but so far it isn’t available.) Regardless, people like their ringtones as either an expression of themselves, to impress their friends, or to just here a cool bit of music when the phone rings rather then an annoying factory ringtone.

This idea is simple. Create an online music-creation space for ringtones. Attract users by offering the full functions for free, wherein they can play around creating snippets of music for no charge. Think of it as entertaining “time-wasting” at it’s finest as users are free to toy around with different instruments and sounds. If the user wants to download their “song” as an actual ring-tone, it costs them a couple bucks. Additionally, you could have a ring-tone marketplace built in and share sales revenue with the original composer.

There is a ton of music software out there. Some of this software allows you to connect an instrument to your computer and play music in to it. Some of this software is an empty sheet of music and you mouse-click where you want the notes to go and what instrument you want them to sound like. Why not take the latter of these to create this online “sandbox” where folks can make music? Right now, it’s hardly worth the trouble to hook up your Les Paul to Cakewalk (software) and riff for 15 seconds to make a ringtone. But given the option of using your mouse to make a ringtone with a full iOrchestra while you’re on your lunch-break or bored at work….people might do that. And since ringtones are so short in duration, you hardly have to be Mozart to make something functional and fun.

What say you?


4 responses to “Startup #81 – Ringtone Studio

  1. Actually, this very startup exists here in the netherlands. ( – but it’s in dutch). It’s not just ringtones, it’s wallpapers as well.

    However, in practice I doubt it’ll work. The problem is simply this – I’m not sure how this works in the USA, but here, for a text message that costs 2 euros to receive, only about 80 cents arrives at the site. Take out something to set yourself up, and about 50 cents – at best – arrives at the content creator.

    So, basically, you screw your friends out of 2 bucks while you get 50 cents. At least a significant amount of people who can make interesting wallpapers/ringtones know how to swap these into a phone using bluetooth, so the practical market isn’t large.

    Then again, I hear in the USA there are many phones with bluetooth data swapping turned off just so that the users are forced into paying through the nose for ringtones and wallpapers. Might work better.

  2. I can see some real value in that.

    ok, not for me as I have an antique phone with no camera, and monophonic ring tone.

    but for the bling/ ringtone junkies out there, I’d say there is some value in a web site that does this!

  3. Thanks for the comments.

    At #1 – It’s less about making money as a ringtone artist then it is about creating something of your own and paying a nominal fee if you want to port it to your phone. I’ll check out the Dutch site you mentioned.

    At #2 – That’s what I’m thinking. My Blackberry is with me for function; communication, calendar, and email. But I’m constantly amazed at how many people use their phones for gaming and music, etc. and that trend will only grow. My 9 year old niece goes to to get a new ringtone every day it seems.

  4. to astartupaday: “My 9 year old niece goes to to get a new ringtone every day it seems” – it’s crazy world… it seems that ringtones bring more money then phones…

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