Kanye West and 50 Cent Awarded For Ringtone Hustle

ImageKanye West, 50 Cent, Rick Ross and Bubba Sparxxx were among the acts honored by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on Wednesday (June 14) for their ringtone sales.

It has long been the RIAA's practice for artists to receive plaques to recognize their vinyl, tape and CD sales but now ringtones will also receive gold and platinum status. According to The Associated Press, the RIAA acknowledged the importance of ringtone downloads by handing out 84 gold plaques, 40 platinum and 4 multiplatinum for sales of 500,000, 1 million and more.

"Just a few short years ago, it was unthinkable for sales on ringtones to go platinum," RIAA Chairman Mitch Bainwol told The AP. "But here we are. We're transforming the way we hear our music."

Wednesday's gold and platinum certification was limited to the "master ringtone," ringtones created from the original masters of the songs as opposed to synthesized instrumental ringtone versions. With ringtone downloads on the rise, musicians are coming to an understanding that there is now room for an entirely new way to market their music.

"You want to do a record so catchy that everybody wants to go out and get it as a ringtone," Ross told The AP.

While the typical ringtone costs no more than $2.99, these download sales are quickly adding up. The new plaques bear cell phones rather than albums as a nod to the genre. According to experts ringtones provide 10% of music industry revenues. Both Rick Ross and Bubba Sparxxx received plaques bearing shiny gold cell phones in honor of the gold sales of their singles.

"I had no idea about the importance of ringtones," Sparxxx told The AP. "But I do after coming here. I sold 800,000 ringtones. Now I know it's an exciting innovation."

"The ring tones are just another gateway to connecting with the kids and the fans," Ross added about receiving recognition for sales of his single "Hustlin'." "That's just the next level."

Discuss this topic