Some may snicker at the news that Thomas Dolby has become a high paid ringtone producer: the articles I read dismissed him as a one-hit wonder from the '80s fallen on hard times. Yeah, I guess that's the case if you buy into media-driven, late capitalist notions of success. One could see it differently: that The Golden Age of Wireless (the LP that preceded his hit EP by a year or so) is as original as Bowie's Hunky Dory and will continue to be listened to for its soulful melodies, smart lyrics and innovative synth programming (to the extent the tech is dated it's interestingly dated), and as for the ringtones, assuming they're original compositions, he just found another way for companies to mass-distribute his art. You can hear incipient ringtones all through Golden Age, for example, the opening bars of "Flying North" and "Cloudburst at Shingle Street."
And don't forget "The Flat Earth," Dolby's incredible follow-up to "The Golden Age of Wireless." It's actually the better of the two records. It is funny how some of these bands get labelled as one-hit-wonders even though they recorded lots of great songs. The Buggles and Missing Persons are another couple of acts from my youth that I would place in this category.
Dolby is a great. "Golden Age" is sublime, way ahead of its time, but standing the test of time (except the grooves of my LP wearing down). As for the ringtones, cellphones are ubiquitous, and as such can be a little annoying and our "transitional" generation will just have to get used to it. I suppose a Dolby ditty is better than most. I don't know how it currently works but it'd be nice if there is room for cellphone makers to have some phones be "open source" and user friendly for people to score and upload their own compositions or samples. If there is a market for ringtones the OEM's might wish to preclude that for all but the most dedicated device hackers.
"If there is a market for ringtones the OEM's might wish to preclude that for all but the most dedicated device hackers."