Akon's "Smack That" was the top selling ringtone of 2006, according to Nielsen Mobile.
2006 should be known in the ringtone world as the year that Mastertones took control of the market. Mastertones are the latest evolution in the ringtone industry. Put simply, Mastertones are the original songs that play on the cell phone in the same way that they do on the radio. This differs from the older ringtone version polyphonics which are a musical recreation of the popular song with no lyrics.
Another enhancement in the ringtone industry for 2006 is the movement of Mastertones away from re-makes by less popular bands as opposed to the more popular orginal artists. More often than not, in the past, some buyers were less satisfied when the ringtone they purchased featured singing by "49 Cent" instead of 50 Cent. Clearly, the record labels have seen the lucrative financial opportunities in offering the original artist songs in ringtone format.
Interestingly, obtaining radio play for a song does not guarantee its success as a ringtone. Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" was the most played song on the radio in 2006, but it didn't crack the top 10 ringtones chart. In fact, none of the top 10 most played songs show up on the top 10 ringtones chart. Clearly, cell phone users have different criteria for what they want to hear when their phone rings than what they listen to on the radio.
The same situation holds true for artists. Nickelback was the most played band on the radio this year, but not a single Nickelback tune made it onto the ringtone charts. Country artists like Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and George Strait were in the top 10 in terms of artist airplay, but none of them were popular in the ringtone format which is dominated by hip-hop.
Still, some good old tunes consistently make their way into the polyphonic ringtone charts. The Pink Panther, Mission Impossible, and Halloween theme songs have been regulars for many years on the top 10 polyphonic ringtone charts. Theme songs are ideal in polyphonic format and don't translate as well to Mastertones where the sound is essentially the same since there are no lyrics.
Here's the complete list of US ringtone sales for 2006. The ringtones are broken down by the two most popular formats--mastertones and polyphonics.
TOP 10 MASTERTONES
1. Smack That -- Akon 1,574,362
2. Lips of an Angel -- Hinder 1,270,996
3. Sexyback -- Justin Timberlake 1,215,058
4. Irreplaceable -- Beyonce 1,039,231
5. We Fly High -- Jim Jones 1,012,949
6. Money Maker -- Ludacris 944,581
7. Chain Hang Low -- Jibbs 927,899
8. My Love -- Justin Timberlake 901,369
9. I Wanna Love You -- Akon 884,912
10. Walk it Out -- DJ Unk 753,487
TOP 10 POLYPHONIC RINGTONES
1. Super Mario Brothers -- Theme 747,900
2. My Humps -- Black Eyed Peas 517,757
3. Grillz -- Nelly 499,935
4. Ms. New Booty -- Bubba Sparxxx 455,550
5. Laffy Taffy -- D4L 367,106
6. Pink Panther -- Theme 347,217
7. Gold Digger -- Kanye West 310,763
8. Halloween -- Movie Theme 291,077
9. Mission Impossible -- Theme 284,335
10. Candy Shop -- 50 Cent 282,203
About the Author
Bob Bentz is co-owner of Advanced Telecom Services--a leading provider of 900 numbers and interactive text message services. Bob's daughter once sent 3867 text messages in a single month.