October 10, 2011 2:21 pm

Sizzi Top: Winning DJ’s tune set to ship on 100mn handsets

ESPOO, Finland – An Italian DJ is about to become a global hit after winning the Nokia Tune competition. ”Nokia Tune Dubstep Edition”, Valerio Alessandro Sizzi’s 24-second version of the iconic Nokia ringtone, will be preloaded on more than 100 million handsets to be shipped all over the world. The delighted 22-year-old audio design graduate from just outside Milan said: “I never expected my version to be so popular and to be highly rated by Nokia, but hey! Nice surprise.” Valerio’s modern take on the tune received 1,000 likes on his Facebook page and beat 6,200 entries to take the $10,000 first prize. Five runners-up each win $1,000 and their tunes will be released at the Nokia Store.

Nokia launched the competition on September 5, to encourage people to experiment and create variations of the Nokia ringtone..

Sizzi Top-prize-winning DJ

The competition website attracted 1.4 million visits and entries were played over 11 million times. Around hundred thousand visitors shared the tunes via Facebook and Twitter.

Valerio added: “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.

“The original Nokia ringtone is the most representative “symbol” of Nokia’s brand identity. It is not just a ringtone, it’s a sound-logo, something that in the last few years has reached a massive importance. Whenever you hear the Nokia Tune, you know it’s a Nokia product.”


The winning tune was selected by a team of  seven judges, comprising some of the most respected names in the business.

They include: Kai Bronner, one of the founders of Audio Branding Academy; Julian Treasure, known for his TED talks and author of ‘Sound Business’; and Mark Dewings, head of Brand & Marketing Communications at SoundCloud. Nokia’s own SVP of Design, Marko Ahtisaari, was also on the jury.

Julian Treasure said: “All of us were very impressed by the number, variety and in many cases the outstanding quality of entries. It was inspiring to see how creative the participants were in adapting the world’s most-played tune in fresh and unexpected ways.

“Picking a winner out of the final ten was extremely difficult because of the sheer range of genres, styles and treatments.

“What made the ‘Nokia Tune Dubstep Edition’ stand out was its energy and unbridled exuberance. We were looking for a fresh, engaging, original yet distinctive Nokia Tune version, and the winner delivers all of that in a very interesting way.”

Nokia Sound Design Manager Tapio Hakanen said: “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.”

The judging panel listened to 3000 minutes of ringtunes, the equivalent of 40 albums.

It sounds like a tedious job, but he loved nearly every minute of the challenge to pick just 10 finalists.

“The standard was really high,” he says. “We had a five-star rating system and I’d say 100 of our entries were good enough to be used as ring tones. Then another 400 were four-star, nearly good enough.

“We had the odd random entry though. We’d be listening to some tracks for four minutes, wondering when the Nokia tune would kick in, then we’d realise someone had just sent us some song they’d written. They must have realised we’d never be able to use it.”

With entries from 70 countries at the Audiodraft competition site, the project emphasises the power and global reach of Nokia’s signature tune, which brings the brand to life in people’s minds instantly.

Grande scale

The original Nokia Tune, known as the Grande Valse was written by by Spanish classical guitarist and composer Francisco Tarrega in 1902. It made its debut in 1994 on the Nokia 2110  and was the first musical ringtone on a mobile phone and is heard worldwide an estimated 1.6 billion times a day.

So it would seem a very brave decision by Nokia to let the public play around with such an integral part of its identity in this competition.

“Obviously we gave it a lot of thought,” said Tapio. “But there were lots of people already doing it on You Tube, so we figured if people are doing it anyway, why not make it official.”

“I think it shows Nokia is open to new ideas and keen to include customers in the creative process.

“The amazing response alone has justified the competition.”

To give you some idea of the scale of the winning tune’s audience, the biggest selling songs of all time are: Bing Crosby: White Christmas: 50 million and Elton John’s Candle in the Wind (Diana’s Funeral) – 33 million. Michael Jackson’s Thriller is the only album to have sold more than 100 million. And Lady Gaga’s total album and singles sales to date add up to an estimated 65 million.

Let us know what you think of the winner which will be just one of the optional ringtones of future Nokia handsets.


Updated October 1, 2015 6:33 pm