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Thursday, September 03, 2009, 04:55 am PT (07:55 am ET)

Apple rushing to release "ready-made ringtones" - report

Apple is rumored to have struck a deal with the music industry and obtained the right to sell "ready-made ringtones," and company officials are reportedly rushing to have them available for next week's event.

Music industry sources reportedly told CNet that Apple will announce and begin to sell pre-cut ringtones at its press event Sept. 9, if they can be prepped to sell in time. In 2007, iTunes granted users the ability to create their own custom ringtones with certain enabled song. The feature cost 99 cents to select a 30-second segment for ringtone playback on the iPhone.

Given that most individual songs on iTunes sell for 99 cents in their entirety, to charge anything above that for just a section of the song might seem odd. However, consumers in the past have shown a willingness to spend up to $3 on a ringtone. The report did not have a final price on ringtones available, but did say the song clips are expected to sell for "far less than $3."

While the pre-cut ringtone feature is technically new, it will not likely be a large announcement for Apple at its Sept. 9 iPod-centric event. Not only are custom ringtones already available on iTunes, but CNet noted that sales of ringtones dropped 24 percent from 2007 to 2008, likely due to the fact that users have figured out how to make their own from pre-purchased songs.

In another music industry-related announcement expected for Wednesday's event, Apple reportedly began collaborating with major labels months ago on a new project code-named "Cocktail," aimed to spur sales of whole albums. Rumors have suggested the new feature would offer lyrics, photos and supplemental material through a separate application that could be viewed outside of iTunes.