Tuned in to isle tones
Hawaiian Telcom subscribers can get Bruddah Iz rings
"SILENT NIGHT," bah, humbug! Sound is what's happening for the holidays. Just take a listen: When any group of people gathers, within minutes a pocket will ring, buzz or burble, an electronic announcement that someone's cell phone is ready to be talked at.
But it doesn't have to be that way. Cell phone customers are discovering that their gadgets can be personalized with individual ring tones. These are sampled bits of music or noise that are triggered by incoming calls, and customers buy them for a couple of bucks to customize their phones.
Rap Reiplinger topped the list of most downloaded ring tones with "Japanese Roll Call."
And so a ring tone or two can make a dandy stocking stuffer. Know anyone with a cell phone? Of course you do.
Which brings us to the tone du jour -- Hawaiian Telcom, in partnership with Mountain Apple music company, is offering Hawaiian music ring tones. You go to the Hawaiiantel.com Web site, pick your tone, and it's called into your cell. ET, phone tone.
Not all cell phones are created equal, and only certain models -- listed on the Web site -- will work. You also have to be a subscriber to Hawaiian Telcom's wireless service for the Hawaiian tones. (Google "ring tones" and you'll find plenty of other tones available to all.)
ACCORDING to Jon DeMello, the cell phone is another slice of the music pizza, thin for now but growing.
"It's been going around for some time," he says. "In places like Tokyo and Korea, it's big time, a cult movement. They even have ring-tone video, which won't be available here for several months. Through ring tones, people are constantly exposed to their favorite music."
Just a few seconds of it?
He sighed. "The radio business isn't, let's say, what it used to be. It's VERY different. Music is being kept OFF radio. Anything you can do to get it out there has to be explored. Sure, they're short, but actually, phones can hold up to a minute and half of ring-toned music, if you can handle not answering your phone that long."
Brothers Robert and Roland Cazimero.
DeMello went through Mountain Apple's archive, selecting dozens of classic Hawaiian tunes, for the most part editing them down to 12- to 15-second segments that can be looped. "You pick the hook of the song, naturally. There's software that takes off the end frequencies, kind of like making an MP3," said DeMello. "A big bass boom in a normal recording would make a phone blow up!"
Hawaiian Telcom loaned Mountain Apple various models of Motorola phones for testing the tones. DeMello discovered that some phone models can be programmed to have individualized ring tones for different incoming calls.
"So, one tone can be Mom, another can be your boss, whatever," said DeMello.
So far, the most-popular ring tone downloads include the Brothers Cazimero, Sean Na'auao and Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. "That's deep in our culture base," said DeMello. "I learned at my dad's knee -- marketing is in our gene pool -- that the fish determines the bait, not the fisherman."
And, so far, and by far, the most popular local ring tone is Rap Reiplinger's "Samurai Roll Call" bit. When you answer, say "Hai!"
TOP 10 RING TONES
These are the most popular downloads from hawaiiantel.com, at $2.49 per ring tone:
1. Rap Reiplinger, "Japanese Roll Call"
2. Sean Na'auao, "Fish & Poi"
3. Brothers Cazimero, "Ku'uipo i ka He'e Pueone"
4. Hawaiian Style Band, "Love & Honesty"
5. Rap Reiplinger, "Room Service"
6. Hawaiian Style Band, "Happy 2 B With U"
7. Hawaiian Style Band, "Live a Little"
8. Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Hawai'i '78"
9. Rap Reiplinger, "Haikus"
10. Brothers Cazimero, "My Sweet Pikake Lei"