Nokia’s Global Search for a New Ringtone

Published Mar-05-12

Open innovation music contest to revamp the ubiquitous Nokia ringtone tune.

Nokia Corporation, Finland

The Story:

Nokia’s Global Search for a New Ringtone It is one of the world’s most recognised tunes, and is heard at least one billion times a day. But even so, Nokia wanted to ring in the changes with a fresh version of its classic tune, ‘Grand Valse’ which first appeared in 1994.

The phone giant launched a global crowdsourcing competition inviting people work on a new tune that would be placed in their 2012 product portfolio alongside the iconic original.

Expressive Tunes Required

The contest kicked off on 5th September 2011 and participants had four weeks to create and submit their compositions, which had to be no longer than 30 seconds. A reference file of past Nokia tunes was available for people to listen to, and participants could use elements of the original. However, organisers stressed that they were not simply after a remix.

Nokia invited composers to come up with a truly original tune using any instruments at their disposal, including opera singers, trash cans, ukuleles, pianos etc. And compositions had to be “fresh, expressive, original, and creative yet distinctively a Nokia Tune”.

Submissions were voted on by the public, and the response was phenomenal. The competition website received around 1.4 million hits and 166, 674 votes were cast. Five finalists were selected by these public votes and a further five were chosen by the panel of judges. This jury then selected the winner and five runner-ups.

The judging panel included Kai Bronner, one of the founders of Audio Branding Academy and Nokia’s SVP of Design, Marko Ahtisaari. They listened to approximately 3,000 minutes of ringtone tunes, that’s the equivalent of about 50 albums.

Winning Composition

The overall winner was ‘The Nokia Tune Dubstep Edition’ by Valerio Alessandro Sizzi, a DJ living near Milan. He beat off competition from 6,200 entries from 70 countries to collect the top prize of $10,000.

Sizzi explained to one interviewer how he came to take part in the crowdsourcing contest:

“I found out about this competition on one of my teachers’ blogs and said ‘why not? Let’s try’. I made a dubstep version of the Nokia Tune because the style has become massively popular during the last two years. I just thought that a sparkling, cool version of the Nokia Tune would attract young customers.”

Nokia Sound Design Manager Tapio Hakanen explains why the Sizzi’s dubstep-inspired sounds won the competition:

“The winner represents very much the sound of now with its energetic dubstep take on the Nokia Tune. It uses the 24-second running time cleverly having a clear intro, mid section and ending, all sitting nicely next to each other. This was one of the many examples of the Nokia Tune’s melodic flexibility.”

Tune In

Nokia says that the winning tune will be preloaded onto approximately 100 million new phones, although it is not expected to be the default option.

No doubt the ringtone will divide opinion; to see whether it gets your thumbs up or thumbs down you can listen to it on YouTube.

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