Band releases album on cellphones

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[Buenos Aires, Argentina] For two weeks before the June 6 release of its latest album "Mezclas Infame," Argentine rock band Babasonicos made it available on cellphones, the first to do so in Argentina. Fans could download tracks from the album as ringtones, higher-quality truetones and 30-second fragments for MP3-equipped phones. Most handsets in Argentina still cannot support an entire song. "One objective is commercial. The band gets revenue from each download," said Diego Cassino, a director of M-Joy Networks, a Buenos Aires-based developer of mobile applications. Each download costs 70ยข to $1.40. Babasonicos and M-Joy split 50%; the rest goes to the mobile carrier. Mr. Cassino declined to disclose download figures. "The other objective is marketing-to position the band as innovative," helping generate buzz to sell CDs, concert tickets and merchandise, he said. The band's fans are 14-to-30-year-olds, a segment that accounts for 50% of cellphone users and is often wealthier and keen to try new technology and mobile content. The venture, supported by radio spots and ads in newspaper music supplements, comes as Argentina's mobile market surges. Cellphone subscriptions reached 15.8 million in April, up 77% from a year earlier, and could reach 25 million by December. Yet the growth has produced problems. With ringtones popular, heaps of providers are promoting listings-including of Babasonicos tones-in cheap ads. "We want to control the content and publication so the band's image isn't hurt," said manager Eduardo Rocca.
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