Platinum Ringtones

Just like vinyl, tapes and CDs, the sounds of ringing cell phones will now translate into awards of 500,000, 1 million and beyond.

Recording Industry Association of America officials honored 128 songs June 14th as the first batch of gold and platinum ringtones. Rapper Rick Ross was one artist who received a plaque bearing a golden cell phone.

“The ringtones are just another gateway to connecting with the kids and the fans,” Ross said. “It’s just the next level.”

Other big ringtone income makers include Beyoncé Knowles, 50 Cent, Kanye West, and Black Eyed Peas – giving people who hate the song “My Humps” one more reason to kvetch. In all, 84 acts were cited as gold winners, 40 platinum and four as multiplatinum. The awards are given based on downloads of ringtones.

“Just a few short years ago, it was unthinkable for sales on ringtones to go platinum,” RIAA Chairman Mitch Bainwol said. “But here we are. We’re transforming the way we hear music.”

According to industry experts, about 10 percent of music industry revenues worldwide now come from ringtones. A typical ringtone can cost up to $2.99.

Ross and Bubba Sparxxx said that when they make future visits to the recording studio, the idea of making a popular ringtone will definitely be part of the process.

“You want to do a record so catchy that everybody wants to go out and get it as a ringtone,” Ross explained.

Sparxxx, who has sold 800,000 ringtones, agreed, saying: “It’s a new revenue stream.”

The gold and platinum certification came under the title of “Master Ringtone,” signifying that they were created from the original masters of the songs. The ringtones are sometimes a synthesized instrumental version rather than the artist’s recording.