TV Show Bribes Kids with Free Ringtones
By Mark Frauenfelder, Wed Jun 30 05:45:00 GMT 2004

Ringtones are becoming the "free prize inside" for marketers. But will the recording industry play along?

Back in the early days of music TV shows, all a show producer had to do was feature a hot musician in order to entice viewers to tune in. Now they have to give them something better -- like a free ringtone. The Fuse Music Network, piped into 40 million homes in the United States via cable, launched a new show Monday, called "Daily Download," that displays a password so viewers can log into the show's Web site and download an mp3-format ringtone, usually one that a featured musician performed on the TV show.

Of course, the password will be posted in blogs and spread via SMS, but the show's producers know that, and they undoubtedly love it, because it'll drive traffic to Daily Download's site. And that's because -- big surprise -- you can buy other ringtones (as well as full-length songs) on the Daily Download site.

Tying ringtones to televised appearances by the musician associated with the song could be just the ticket for the recording industry, which typically responds to new music distribution technologies by unleashing lawyers first, and increasing prices second. In the case of "Daily Download," the artist and the record industry have a nice promotional connection as well as a place to sell songs.