Sprint eyes labels for ring tones

Two of the world's largest record labels plan to license their music to Sprint PCS in an effort to mine new markets to offset a slump in music sales, Sony Music and other sources familiar with the matter said.

Wireless phone company Sprint PCS plans to offer song snippets from Sony Music as ring tones, rather than the conventional computerized warbles and tweets, said a spokeswoman from Sony, home to such acts as Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. Sprint PCS also plans to expand a music subscription service that allows customers to use a wireless Internet connection to listen to, or "stream," complete songs from Warner Music acts such as Michelle Branch, The Donnas and others, sources said.

In January, Sprint began offering a service that allows people to listen to 30-second Warner song samples. Sources familiar with the matter said the services will be launched in July, although the specific music to be made available and the price of the services are expected to be announced as early as Monday. "Sony Music has licensed the use of some of its catalog to be used as ring tones," a Sony spokeswoman said. Warner, a unit of AOL Time Warner, and Sprint PCS declined to comment.

While computerized ring tones based on popular songs have been available for some time, Sprint PCS is the first U.S. company to use actual snippets of songs to be sold as ring tones. Many phones in Europe and Asia already offer actual song snippets as ring tones.

News source: C|net

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