Wal-Mart launches DRM-free MP3 music downloads at 94-cents per track

Wal-Mart today announced the launch of DRM-free MP3 music downloads, now available online at www.walmart.com.

At 94-cents per track and $9.22 per album, the new MP3 digital format delivers value, convenience and the ability for customers to play music on nearly any device, including Apple iPod and iPhone portable media players. Wal-Mart is one of the first major retailers to offer MP3 digital tracks with music content from major record labels such as Universal and EMI Music.

“As we consistently strive to help our customers shop smart at Wal-Mart, our new ‘DRM-free’ MP3 digital tracks give them the ease and flexibility to play music on virtually any device at a great value,” said Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart’s senior director and divisional manager for digital media, in the press release. “Also, we’re excited to launch our MP3 catalog with major record labels such as Universal and EMI Music that includes music from popular artists like The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, KT Tunstall, Amy Winehouse, Maroon 5, George Strait and Nelly.”

Wal-Mart’s new MP3 music catalog includes hundreds of thousands of songs and albums, and will be continually expanded with additional mainstream and independent music content.

Wal-Mart will continue to offer its existing WMA-format music downloads. Customers may select the option of MP3-format downloads at 256 kbps for $0.94/track and/or WMA-format downloads at 128 kbps for $0.88/track.

We love it when a plan comes together! Steve Jobs has changed the world… again.

A side effect of this whole Steve Jobs-propelled DRM-free shift is that Microsoft’s WMA format and DRM will be sidelined even further than it is already and ultimately limited to the “cheap low-quality” format which is perfectly apt given its corporate parent.

50 Comments

  1. I think we can now safely say we have entered the “how the hell do we stop iTunes” phase – the shift from denial to pulling out all stops was quite rapid indeed.

    Also love the double discount for WMA – dear customer, you really, really prefer this choice don’t you?

    How the worm turned!

  2. I just went to wal-fart to look at these new .mp3 files they are selling.

    They told me I can’t with a Mac.

    “We’re sorry, your operating system is incompatible. To provide the best download experience, we can no longer support Windows 98, ME or NT. Please visit again after you upgrade to Windows 2000 or XP. Visit our Help section for complete system requirements information.”

    What a dick of a company.

  3. I want my DRM-free music in AAC format for my iPhone and AppleTV, not MP3! Universal can wait to get my money until they do DRM-Free on iTunes. Besides, who wants to deal with moving music files from the deasktop to iTunes?

  4. I don’t know…there is something to be said about the experience of buying a CD at a store. It’s the experience of opening it up, smelling the new-ness, and putting it into your player. It’s opening up the booklet and reading along while you listen.

    The experience of a CD purchase makes it worth it. It was the same with tapes and LP’s. There’s something so impersonal about buying digital music…

  5. M@c…

    Absolutely! Online music “shopping” will NEVER replace poking through CD bins and “trying” obscure or unknown stuff based solely on graphics and gut instinct.

    I was in Paris during the spring and went to FNAC by the Bastille Opera. It was actually pretty exciting to dig around and buy a pile of music I know I probably never see in the States.

    I’ve got a favorite music store in Sofia, Bulgaria, too. Found some amazing music in Istanbul and Munich…

  6. You all have it wrong—way wrong when it comes to WMA files.

    Microsoft has empowered the end-user with their standard. Throw in the pristine quality of WMA with the liberal DRM policy from the geniuses in Redmond and what you have is a win-win situation for the consumer. Hey MAC lemmings, don’t let Apple bully you into their “open” formats for their proprietary iPods. Nobody wants either.

    Wal-Mart is making a deal with the devil selling DRM-free MP3 format tracks. They had a strong alliance and fantastic thing going with Microsoft and WMA. Why change? My Dell Ditty is filled with great WMA tracks.

    Your potential. Our passion.™

  7. Complete BS. Why wouldn’t it support Macs??? It’s DRM free, it’s an MP3. Macs can read MP3 files. That is out of control discrimination to punish Apple users for iTunes. Someone should file a lawsuit.

  8. I like the major change of tune from MDN on this one. It’s quite a reversal from what they said before. Of course, I’m sure they won’t admit they changed their stance, but it is nice to see once in a while.

    —–

    Oh, and the store is most certainly Mac compatible, just not OS X compatible in the same way that it’s not Windows 98 compatible.

  9. @MegaMe

    silly, naturally it doesn’t work on a Mac! Macs can’t play mp3s!

    “i would buy an iPod if they could play mp3s instead of that iTunes stuff…”

    yes, that is a really quote, spoken to me in real life, by a real idiot….

  10. FYI: A 256 kbits AAC file is far higher quality than a 256 kbits mp3.

    With sites that I run across that don’t support Macintosh, I simply email support and ask them about it. If we all do this then retailers and others will realize that Mac users are out there and represent an opportunity to make more money. I have noticed that more and more are replying that they are planning or working on that compatibility.

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