April 09, 2009

I'm a bit behind posting about this interesting little article and have had the window sitting open on my computer for a few days waiting to post and now that open window is threatening to destabilize world peace around here so I am posting it to liberate myself.

All a long winded way of introducing the article about
the centrality of cell phone ring tones for the regional Mexican music market.

"Sensing the rising power of regional Mexican music’s fan base and keeping an eye on general Latin consumer trends (Latinos were twice as likely as non-Latinos to purchase ring tones in 2008), every major phone company has made deals with regional Mexican acts: sponsoring concert tours, offering “mobile tickets” to shows, bundling song downloads and ring tones with phone subscriptions and selling phone cards emblazoned with the faces of popular bands like Los Temerarios everywhere from Wal-Mart to weekend swap meets. (Call to collect your minutes, and a member of the band greets you.) While AT&T began sponsoring tours in 2004, only now is there unanimous agreement among phone companies that regional Mexican is central to the future of mobile music."

And inevitably, as you might expect, the Mexican fans are being gouged by the cellphone companies:

"Because fans of regional Mexican music tend to be working-class immigrants and their United States-born children, they don’t fit the typical musical consumption patterns of the digital age. They most likely don’t own a home computer, don’t use a credit card and don’t have broadband at home, all prerequisites for an iTunes account. Instead they buy prepaid phone cards with cash and use their cellphones as mobile, personal jukeboxes, often downloading ring tones from their cellular providers for about $3 each, three times the price from iTunes or Zune.

“This audience has adopted the mobile phone as their primary means of communication,” said Oliver Buckwell of the marketing agency Tribal Brands, which has set up deals between Verizon and regional Mexican acts. “It is also now their primary means of getting music.”"

You probably have noticed that all Mariachis have cellphones hanging off of their tight pants. This almost seems like part of the Mariachi uniform in the globalized era.

I will confess to having been tempted to put a Los Razos de Sacramento or Ramon Ayala ringtone on my phone, though the idea of paying for a ringtone is actually something I could never consider. Thus I dangle between these powerful opposing forces, betwixt and between.

Josh Kun, the writer of this article, wrote a book that, in a moment of watertightness, I just started reading recently and which I recommend to you, friend: Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America.

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