Internet stalwart RealNetworks launched its LISTEN mobile app back in November, noting at the time that it was looking to “reinvent the ringback tone experience for smartphone users”.

In a nutshell, LISTEN makes the songs and messages that play when someone calls you more flexible. For launch, the app was only available to Orange and T-Mobile subscribers in the UK – but from today, it’s being rolled out in the US too, kicking off with T-Mobile.

You can select tunes from a catalog of music from Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, and a slew of indie labels, assigning specific songs to your contacts. It also generates a ‘top-callers’ list based on your history, with song-matching based on music already on your device.

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It’s not about what you can listen to when someone calls – you can set music or status messages so the caller can hear a personalized song or message rather than the bog-standard telephone-ringing noise as they wait for you to pick up.

Indeed, you can assign a specific voice status message to tell callers when you’re unavailable (e.g., on a flight, or asleep), and automatically set songs for holidays or special occasions. There’s also a social element here, as you can text your buddies to let them know what song you’ve chosen for them, but it lets them override your selection if they so wish.

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Of course, RealNetworks has chosen to partner with only T-Mobile for now, so if you’re not on that network, then you’ll not be able to use this. Limiting this to just one network seems like an odd move for me, as it surely restricts uptake among groups of friends on different networks. For what it’s worth, you can register your email address on the LISTEN website, so that you’re notified when it’s available through other carriers.

There’s a basic free basic service, or a ‘standard’ and ‘premium’ subscription plan starting at $2.99 a month that gets you more features, while you can also buy four song credits for $3.99.

RealNetworks has a long history in the ringtone business, and currently claims more than 18 million active global ringback tone subscribers in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. Indeed, back in 2002, RealNetworks’ WiderThan division launched its first ringback tone service with SK Telekom in South Korea.

The LISTEN brand is a resurrection of sorts, stemming from a $36 million acquisition back in 2003, which gave RealNetworks control of the online music service Rhapsody. This was spun out as a separate standalone entity in 2006.

LISTEN

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Feature Image Credit – Getty Images