Skype, eBay Inc.'s Internet telephone subsidiary, announced a deal Tuesday with music publishers that will make audio clips from artists like Madonna, Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers available to its users as ringtones.
Clips from Madonna songs — including "Like A Virgin" and "Vogue" — will be available Wednesday for $1.50 each, with other artists to follow, Skype said.
Luxembourg-based Skype signed license agreements with EMI Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music and the British association for author and publisher rights, the MCPS-PRS Alliance.
The deals give the rights to songs from the publishers' catalogs, but not artist renditions of the songs. So far, Skype only has a performance-rights deal with Warner Music Group, home of Madonna.
Skype claims close to 100 million users, who call for free from computer to computer, or pay a small fee to place and receive calls from regular phones. Online auctioneer eBay bought the company last year for $2.6 billion.
On cell phones, audio clips known as "master ringtones," have been a fast-growing segment, gradually replacing earlier synthesized tunes as phones have become more advanced.
Billboard magazine estimates that global sales of ringtones for cell phones totaled $4.4 billion in 2005, up from $3.7 billion the previous year. Much of that growth was due to sales of master ringtones, according to the magazine.
However, unlike most cell-phone customers, sophisticated Skype users can make their own ringtones by importing audio clips from their computer's hard drive.