Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), the world’s leading music performing rights organization, today released its annual mobile music market revenue projections for 2009 and finalized its earlier figures for 2008. BMI licenses the public performing right in the U.S. for the musical works of its more than 375,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers.
BMI projects that ringback tones will surpass $235 million in U.S. retail sales during calendar year 2009, up 15% from BMI’s 2008 market estimate of $205 million and 68% from BMI’s 2007 estimate of $140 million. A ringback tone is a musical work that is performed to the caller when they place a call to a participating mobile subscriber. BMI estimates that more than 10 million U.S. subscribers are signed up for ringback-tone services with their wireless carriers. Ringback-tone services have an industry-wide average penetration rate of approximately 4%. Subscriber penetration by carrier for ringback tones ranges from less than 2% to a high of 9%.
BMI’s study is based on comprehensive sales and use data it collects as part of its licensing agreements with its mobile music clients; this data reflects more than 215 million of the current 270 million-plus United States mobile subscribers.
“We predict that ringback tones will hit a new high in 2009,” said Richard Conlon, Vice President, New Media & Strategic Development, BMI. “Mobile phones are a multi-format device and have become a distribution outlet for entertainment content for the consumer. The relationship with the mobile phone has transcended voice communication and the increase usage in music and audio-visual offerings illustrates that. Ringback tones’ revenues are growing as more subscribers sign up for and increase the number of tones in their libraries. It is a music use area that we see a continuing growth rate for.”
Ringback tones are sold by all major carriers and retail at prices between $1.99 and $2.50 per tone with the vast majority of tones selling at $1.99. The fee allows the subscriber to use the tone for anywhere from 90 days to 12 months. With only one exception, all major carriers require a monthly recurring subscription fee to the service, which is required before a subscriber can purchase a tone. The monthly recurring charge ranges from $.99 to $5.00. Carriers representing more than 75% of U.S. wireless subscribers offer the monthly subscription services at $.99 or less.
BMI tracks titles and revenues associated with the U.S. use of ringback tone services, streaming audio, and streaming audio visual services. The company’s database of U.S. earnings and titles is believed to be the most comprehensive in the industry. BMI uses the data that it collects to distribute public performance royalties from the U.S. on a pro-rated basis to its affiliated songwriters, composers and music publishers and other music rights agencies around the world.
BMI is an American performing right organization that represents more than 375,000 songwriters, composers and publishers in all genres of music. With a repertoire of more than 6.5 million musical works from around the world, the company operates on a non-profit-making basis, collecting license fees from businesses that use music, which it then distributes as royalties to the musical creators and copyright owners it represents.
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