MMW-11 -- Why Make a Good Ringtone?

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J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
M U S I C M E D I A W A T C H
Commentary on the Week's Music Technology News
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Issue No. 11
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
Tokyo

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CONTENTS

++ FEATURE: Why Make a Good Ringtone?

++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS:
- New iPod Features 10GB Drive
- Panasonic Portable MP3/CD Player Rips to Memory
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For more information, call Fabien Brogard Cipriani at:
fabien@japaninc.com or 03-3499-2175 x 1709
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++ FEATURE: Why Make a Good Ringtone?

Last week, I wrote about a recent ringtone creation seminar held in
Tokyo, and described some of the things that go into making a 'good'
ringtone -- adjusting volume levels, selecting and editing instrument
sounds, reducing distortion and so forth. The conclusion was that to
make a ringtone which meets the standards set by the network provider
that sponsored the seminar requires much time and effort on the part
of the creator. In this week's feature, we'll look at why it is
worthwhile for creators to put such emphasis on making good
ringtones.

When the first polyphonic ringtone sites were launched in Japan in
late 1999, the focus was strictly on quantity and competition between
the providers essentially amounted to a race to see who could build
the largest catalog of songs. This race continued throughout 2000 and
intensified at the end of the year when the first 16-voice polyphonic
ringtone sites began to appear.

At the beginning of 2001 the top position on the i-Mode menu for
ringtone sites was held by Giga Networks with its Chakushin Melody
GIGA site. As mentioned in previous features, menu position is
vitally important for ringtone sites. The vast majority of people
trying out their first ringtone site will generally choose one from
the first page of the menu list, and the majority of these will choose
the site listed at the very top of the menu. DoCoMo changes the
positioning based on subscriber numbers but because the sites at the
top generally get the most access (simply by virtue of their
accessibility), they tend to stay at the top.

It came as quite a surprise then when GIGA lost its coveted spot at
the top of the menu to XING's Pokemero JOYSOUND site late last year.
GIGA had seemingly done everything right, compiling the largest
catalog of ringtones from many different musical genres. Naturally,
other providers set about trying to figure out what exactly the
JOYSOUND site did differently to boost it past GIGA.

After conducting surveys and thoroughly checking out both sites, the
overall consensus was that JOYSOUND simply made better-sounding
ringtones than GIGA, making up for less quantity with a lot more
quality. From last week's column, you know that this means the
creators of the ringtones for JOYSOUND spent a lot of time tweaking
the MFi (Melody For i-Mode) files, making different versions of the
same song for different phone models, finding the best voice for the
melody of the song and working out strong arrangements.

Accordingly, in the opening months of 2002, the overall trend in
ringtone production appears to be toward higher quality. Whereas last
year a ringtone creator could throw together just about anything and
find a buyer for it, this year, the standards in Japan are much
higher and providers are willing to pay substantially higher prices
for the better quality ringtones. In addition, an increasing number of
ringtone 'boutiques' have sprung up in the last several months. Rather
than compete on the size of their song catalogs, Japanese ringtone
sites now try to distinguish themselves by making the best-sounding
ringtones in a particular genre. From the i-Mode menu, you can easily
find sites specializing in club music, jazz, latin and even music box
ringtones.

With the launch of i-Mode in Germany two weeks ago, it will now be
interesting to see if the European ringtone market follows the same
pattern as Japan, where an initial emphasis on quantity and generality
gradually gives way to demands for higher quality and specialized
sites. At the moment, there are only three major Japanese sites
operating in Europe: JOYSOUND, Yamaha and Cybird and they are still
limited to providing only copyright-free material. Once the copyright
issue is resolved, however, it's a safe bet that these three ringtone
giants will be off to the races.

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Success In Small Packages: Forget the giants -- small
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NOTEWORTHY NEWS: New iPod Features 10GB Drive

Apple moved deeper into the digital music arena as Steve Jobs
announced in Tokyo last week that an upgrade to the company's iPod MP3
player will feature a 10GB capacity -- enough to hold roughly 2,000
MP3 files. The new iPod also sports a contacts feature that can be
synchronized with various PIMs. It will be priced at $499; about $100
more than the currently shipping 5GB version.

Source: MP3newswire.net
http://www.mp3newswire.net/stories/2002/ipod10gb.html

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NOTEWORTHY NEWS: Panasonic Portable MP3/CD Player Rips to Memory

Panasonic announced the release of a new portable MP3/CD Player that
allows users to rip CDs direct to an internal memory card, thereby
making it possible to record straight from cassettes, LPs or even
mixing boards. The Panasonic SV-SR100 also supports CD-R/RW and
plays digital files in MP3, AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) and WMA
formats. The unit is expected to ship in early Q2 at a retail price of
$399.

Source: MP3newswire.net
http://www.mp3newswire.net/stories/2002/panasonicSDCD.html

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STAFF
Written by Steve Myers (steve.myers@l8tech.com)
Steve Myers heads the Theta Group at Layer-8 Technologies, which
specializes in the development of music-related software
applications.
Edited by J Mark Lytle (mark@japaninc.com)

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