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Last Updated: Friday, 30 April, 2004, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK
Album gets ringtone only release
Super Smart band
Is this the face of future digital music?
A band from Germany has adopted a novel approach to getting their music heard by millions.

Super Smart have turned their backs on vinyl and CDs and instead have decided to just release their album as ringtones.

The album, Panda Babies, is published by a German company that focuses on digital music for mobile phones.

"Music has to be re-thought," said Antonio Vince Staybl, founder of the Go Fresh Mobile Music label.

Disco electro

The identity of the four-piece from Munich is shrouded in mystery and in photos they appear with giant panda heads.

Super Smart say this is because they want to avoid interference from the major labels, but it is no doubt a useful gimmick to attract media attention.

Beyonce Knowles
The more recognisable face of hit music
They say they decided to release their album as polyphonic ringtones so that they could circumvent the traditional music publishing machine.

Those curious enough to sample the mix of disco pop and electro punk will only have to pay an introductory price of 1.99 euros (1.32) for Panda Babies.

"We release songs within a few hours across Europe without interfaces to the traditional music industry," said Toni Werner Montana of GoFresh Europe.

"Our prices for a ringtone album or a compilation of 10 to 12 tracks including a mobile phone video will settle down at four to five euros and the price for a single ringtone at 1.49 euro (99 pence) in the medium-term."

GoFresh already signed up 20 artists and last month said it has sold a million ringtones in just under a year of operation.

Phone ringtones are big business, with most pop hits available to buy as mobile phone rings for between 1.50 and 3.50.

An estimated 70m of ringtones were sold in the UK in 2003, up from 40m in 2002.

The release of the Super Smart album was first reported by the online magazine, Digital Lifestyles.

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