Friday’s New York Times has an interesting piece about the regional Mexican music market–which includes disparate styles like norteño, banda, and ranchera–and the way that cell phones have become an integral part of it:

Because fans of regional Mexican music tend to be working-class immigrants and their United States-born children, they don’t fit the typical musical consumption patterns of the digital age. They most likely don’t own a home computer, don’t use a credit card and don’t have broadband at home, all prerequisites for an iTunes account. Instead they buy prepaid phone cards with cash and use their cellphones as mobile, personal jukeboxes, often downloading ring tones from their cellular providers for about $3 each, three times the price from iTunes or Zune.

Aside from carrier-based music stores, musicians have been exploiting broader, less formal social networks to gain fans. The article cites the Sonoran group Los Pikadientes de Caborca whose home-recorded single “La Cumbia del Rio” became a smash thanks in large part to people multiplying the song from phone to phone via Bluetooth and Memory Stick. “La Cumbia del Rio” ended up earning Los Pikadientes de Caborca a record deal, a Grammy nomination, and 150,000 paid ringtone sales in the U.S. alone.

The official “La Cumbia del Rio” YouTube video has embedding disabled, but it’s worth clicking over to–the song is crazy fun and watching a dude in busted-ass jean shorts wailing on a sousaphone is all kinds of entertaining.

(via BoingBoing)