Posted by: nickgerlich | March 12, 2008

Give Me A Ring

Everyone was happy this week when it was announced that the WT campus will soon have an impressive clock tower soaring above the campus skyline. To be located in the pedestrian mall between the Classroom Center and the Computer Center, the clock will chime hourly, as well as play the WT fight song each day at noon. The tower, weighing in at #438,000, is completely funded by an anonymous benefactor who insisted the fight song be played each and every day.

RingtoneWhen you’re the donor, you can make stipulations. And this is a good one. It reinforces school pride, and creates an enhanced sense of community on-campus.

But what if you want that fight song to go?

As it turns out, selling college fight song ringtones is now a booming business. I suppose I should have seen it coming. In a culture fixated on the “i” in Ipod, it’s all about creating our own programming, whether it be our own playlists or the ringtone of our choosing. And given that affinity credit cards have been popular for about 15 years now, this just seems like a natural extension.

Ringtones were estimated to be a $550 million business in 2007, with ringbacks (the music that is pushed into your ear when you call a subscribing member) at $65 million. Still, it is always amusing to watch the people scurry when a default ringtone goes off in a restaurant (you know, like that annoying Cingular tone). Everyone frantically reaches for their phone, not knowing if the call is for them.

But now the drama can unfold differently. Can you imagine sitting in Fazoli’s and suddenly hearing the WT fight song start blaring? All loyal alums should immediately stand up and honor their alma mater.

Ringtones are a surprising success story in the e-commerce arena. After all, it’s not exactly like we need a ringtone, because all phones come with an array of stock tones. Purchasing tones is a simple online transaction, not to mention it being a cheap indulgence.

But I must confess to not knowing the WT fight song, nor the stirring anthem from my alma maters, Indiana University and Anderson University. Come summer I guess I’ll have to just hang out under the clock tower at noon to add WT’s to my playlist. Shall we have lunch?

Dr “Tone Deaf” Gerlich


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