Ringtones have become big business – be they Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, the latest reggae by Sean Paul or even bars of Beethoven’s ninth symphony – so big in fact that it’s been revealed they have overtaken single CD sales.

Last year £65 million worth of singles were sold in the UK, compared to £75m in ringtones for mobile phones – that’s up from £40m in 2002. And this year’s growth of about 60 per cent is expected to continue in 2004, creating a £100m industry.

The European ringtone market alone is worth an estimated 1 billionn euros annually and growing. If further proof were needed, Woolworths has created a top-10 chart for ringtones, displaying it alongside the singles chart in the hope that customers will buy the single and the ringtone at the same time.

So just why are people prepared to pay around £3 a time to change the tune their phone makes when it rings – and why do they change them so often?

More here.