MMW-03 -- The Making of a Ringtone, Part 1

J@pan Inc Magazine Presents:
Commentary on the week's music technology news

Issue No. 3
Tuesday, January 29, 2002


++ Feature: The Making of a Ringtone, Part 1
++ Noteworthy News
- Nokia Offers Wireless Music Service
- Napster Begins Beta Test of Secure System
- KaZaA Sold, May Move to Australia


++ FEATURE: The Making of a Ringtone, Part 1

In the previous two issues of MMW, I've described some of the technical
and legal obstacles involved in developing a ringtone download site for
the fledgling European i-mode service. While it takes a considerable
investment of time and effort to clear these hurdles, launching the site
is actually only half the battle. To keep customers coming back, the site
must have a large number of ringtones, with new songs added weekly, and
this in turn requires people to make them.

At present, the demand for ringtone creators is far greater than the
supply, and providers are constantly on the lookout for people who can add
new songs to their catalogs. As 16-voice i-mode ringtones spread first
into Europe and later to Taiwan, the need for ringtone creators has
increased further still.

Providers often hire freelance musicians and composers to make ringtones
for their sites. A growing number of professional musicians are becoming
proficient with sequencing software, and with a going rate of 25,000 to
30,000 yen per song, many have found ringtone creation to be a rather
comfortable method of supplementing their performing/recording incomes.

The process of creating an i-mode ringtone often begins with the provider
choosing a popular new song for the site. A CD or MP3 of the song is then
sent to the creator, who works out all of the parts by ear and mixes them
into a MIDI file using some type of sequencer. This part is relatively

The next step, however, involves converting the MIDI file into the MFi
(Melody For i-mode) format. MFi was developed by Kyoto-based Faith Inc.
and has become the standard sound format for the i-mode platform. The
problem, though, lies in the fact that there are subtle differences in the
way the software on the various 503 handsets actually play the file. A
song that plays beautifully on the N503i can sound like a train wreck on
the P503iS and vice versa.

The MIDI to MFi conversion process requires an inordinate amount of
massaging and tweaking on the part of the creator, and has become
something of an art form in itself. Next week, in part 2 of this feature,
we'll explore this all-important (and increasingly controversial) aspect
of ringtone creation.

J@pan Inc magazine produces three other newsletters:

++ Wireless Watch (WW): Mondays -- A weekly digest of news
and commentary focusing on Japan's wireless industry. Stay up to date
on i-mode, 3G phones and everything else wireless with WW.

++ Gadget Watch (GW): Thursdays -- Looks at the latest gadgets
being rolled out in Japan and is the perfect newsletter for gadget
freaks. Note, however, that we're not responsible for any cases of
"Japan gadget envy" that develop -- in many cases the products you'll
read about are available only on these shores.

++ J@pan Inc Newsletter (JIN); Wednesdays -- A weekly digest of news
and commentary focusing on technology and business in Japan. JIN is
a useful way to keep abreast of events without having to leave your

Subscribe, unsubscribe, and find out more at: We don't sell our lists to
spammers, so breathe easy.

++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS: Nokia Offers Wireless Music Service

Partnering with Elisa Communications, Nokia has recently launched a
wireless music download service where users can download music to their
PCs, then transfer it to a Nokia 5510 phone. Nokia said that the service
is a part of a trial program for exploring methods of distributing music
to mobile devices.

++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS: Napster Begins Beta Test of Secure System

Napster unveiled a beta test version of its new copyright-compliant
service last Thursday. The service, which blocks music from the major
labels, is only available to 20,000 people selected at random from a group
of more than two million applicants for participation in the test. Napster
founder Shawn Fanning says that the new version of the service required a
98 percent rewrite of the code for the program.

++ NOTEWORTHY NEWS: KaZaA Sold, May Move to Australia

Last week, we reported that Dutch P2P software maker KaZaA had suspended
downloads of its enormously popular client program. On January 21st, the
company announced that it had been bought by Sharman Networks Ltd., a
privately held firm in Australia. KaZaA wasted no time in resuming the
download of its software, continuing its defiance of a December order from
the Amsterdam district court to shut down.

SUBSCRIBERS: 98 as of January 29, 2002

Written by Steve Myers (
Edited by J@pan Inc editorial team (

Subscribe at:

To UNSUBSCRIBE to this newsletter, click here:

For information on advertising in this newsletter,

Send letters to the editor to
Please contact us with any problems that arise:

We have other newsletters -- Subscribe to Wireless Watch, Gadget
Watch and the J@pan Inc newsletter at

(C) Copyright 2002 Japan Inc Communications KK. All Rights Reserved.

You are currently subscribed to mmw as:
To unsubscribe send a blank email to