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UMG targets Hispanic consumers with ringtone subscription service

Universal Music Group is targeting Hispanic music fans with a ringtone subscription service called Movihits.

The Movihits service will provide ringtones from several different genres of music, including offerings from the most popular Latin artists. Universal teamed with m-Wise to manage the subscription platform.

“Mobile content is already a big part of Universal Music Latin Entertainment’s digital revenue, much bigger than online,” said Skander Goucha, senior vice president of digital at Universal Music Latin Entertainment, Los Angeles. “Hispanics tend to over-index in mobile usage and downloads compared to non-Hispanics.

“Movihits is an important addition to our mobile content offerings and we expect it to represent a key part of our mobile growth.”

Universal Music Latin Entertainment is a subsidiary of Universal Music Group, New York.

Universal announced its partnership with m-Wise last month (see story).

Ringtone subscription service
Consumers can subscribe to Movihits at .

Movihits subscriptions cost $9.99 per month, and payment is handled through carrier billing.

“We think that this is the most efficient billing method for this offer,” said Mr. Goucha.

Users receive 22 credits in their first month of service, plus a free ringtone, and 10 credits for each month thereafter.

Ringtones cost two credits a piece, while other content, such as mobile wallpapers, costs one credit each.

Users can purchase content from the Movihits Web site, and the service will send a receipt SMS message that includes a link that users can click through to download.

The launch of Movihits reflects an increased focus at Universal on generating sales through mobile phones.

“We are expanding our direct-to-consumer product offerings by developing a mobile subscription service targeted to Hispanics in the U.S.,” Mr. Goucha said.

Universal says that Movihits is targeting young Hispanic consumers who embrace both mainstream United States and Latin musical offerings.

The service will include both Spanish- and English-language ringtones.

Universal is promoting the service with a nationwide campaign, running television spots on Univision Networks and ads on the company’s online properties.

Mobile commerce has become a popular tool amongst record labels and recording artists.

For example, country-pop megastar Taylor Swift has been driving record and ticket sales via mobile applications (see story).

Likewise, Sony Music Entertainment has made its catalog of full-length tracks, videos and images and ringtones available for purchase on mobile phones (see story).

Universal signaled its intention to make a hard push into mcommerce through its partnership with m-Wise, and the company is confident that its mobile offerings will strike a chord with consumers.

“We think that there is an untapped market of all the consumers that do not own smartphones,” Mr. Goucha said. “So we are focusing on ringtones with invoicing through premium text messaging.

“We will expand our product offering to other products such as full tracks once we feel that there is space for a direct-to-consumer offer in this space,” he said.

Dan Butcher contributed reporting to this story.

Final Take
Peter Finocchiaro, editorial assistant at Mobile Commerce Daily, New York