Verizon Says Goodbye to Ringback and Ringtones

What happened to the Verizon ringback tone?

As if Millennials needed another reminder of our own aging, Verizon has announced full discontinuation of ringback tones and ringtones.

The iconic tones shaped so many of us who were coming of age in the early to mid 2000’s. The decision: what song do I want to play when people call me? What song do I want people to hear when they call? If you are having an issue with a romantic interest, air it out with an emotional tear-jerking ballad. If you are recovering from a breakup, put the jubilant upbeat pop or rock song to show you are OVER IT.

What is a ringback and ringtone?

A ringback or ringtone, for the younger generation, were two different things. A ringback was a song that played when someone dialed your phone number. The caller would hear the song instead of a ring sound until that person picked up or prior to the call going to voicemail. A ringtone was a song that played on your own phone instead of a ring sound when people would dial your phone. A user would pay a few dollars a month to have this service.

Verizon started the service in 2004 and it took off. Changing a ringtone or ringback was akin to changing a social media profile photo, avatar, or wardrobe. It was an expression of identity. It was a way to show off your connection to pop culture or flaunt music snobbery. Verizon even encouraged the user to change up tones for various times of year such as holidays.

The trend started to die down in 2008 as sales began to decline. AT&T did away with ringback tones in 2011 and Sprint did shortly thereafter. However, Verizon has been a hold out.

When will Verizon end ringtones?

Verizon put out the following statement on their website regarding ringtones and ringback tones:

Effective August 26, 2020, Verizon customers will no longer be able to subscribe or purchase ringback tones ahead of its discontinuation on October 31, 2020.

Effective October 31, 2020, Verizon will be discontinuing Ringback Tones and Playlists. Your existing subscription(s) and any Ringback Tone(s) you purchased from the Media Store will be automatically removed from all lines on your account, and you will no longer be charged a subscription fee for this feature. You may receive a one-time, prorated bill credit(s) for the subscription fee and any active Ringback Tone(s) that you purchased. You will not need to do anything to implement these changes or receive prorated bill credits, if eligible. Thank you for being a Verizon Customer.

Verizon Wireless

This is basically the official end of ringtones and ringback tones, but apparently T-Mobile and MetroPCS offer them through third party apps. Still, the institution was dead essentially and many were still surprised they were still in existence.

Thanks for the memories!

A few memories of ringtones for me personally, well, many people had the free default ringback tone which was “Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – Spring (Part 2).” I’ll never not be able to think of the friends and love interests in that era that had that default tone when I hear the song.

This song was the default ringback tone every Verizon mobile user had if they did not choose their own.

Additionally, I remember when my sister in early college had The Strokes’ “12:51” as her ringtone. To my young teenage self, it seemed like the coolest thing. The hardest pill to swallow? My dad has had “Calling Dr. Love” by Kiss as his ringback tone for more than a decade. It will be so weird to not hear it play when I give him a call post October 31, 2020.

Well, like many other fading institutions we’ve had to say goodbye to in 2020, we say farewell to you ringtones and ringback tones. I’ll leave you with more antiquated Verizon ringtone ad from YouTube.


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