Wal-Mart isn’t exactly known to technology lovers as a haven
for the latest technology devices. However, Wal-Mart announced that it will begin selling DRM-free music online this week.
Wal-Mart has sold digital downloaded music for some time now, but those tunes
DRM is almost universally hated by music lovers due to the
problems with using tunes legally purchased across multiple digital devices
they own. With Apple selling DRM free tunes on the iTunes store
and LimeWire also making an announcement intending to sell
DRM-free tracks, it seems as though record labels are finally getting the
Wal-Mart music buyers will have the option to buy the tracks
in 256Kbps MP3 sans any DRM for 94 cents. The same tune in a DRM laden WMA
track at 128Kbps will cost 88 cents.
This pricing scheme undercuts iTunes by a few pennies for
similar tracks. iTunes charges $1.29 for 256Kbps AAC-encoded tracks with no DRM
and 99 cents for a DRM version of the same song. Whether the price difference is
enough to get music lovers to buy tracks from Wal-Mart over iTunes and other online
music services is anyone’s guess. Wal-Mart will have an uphill road though as
iTunes reportedly commands 70 percent of online music sales.
Wal-Mart will sell DRM-free tunes from Universal and EMI
Music. Some notable artists handled by DMI include Coldplay and The Rolling
Stones. There seems to be no method of upgrading previously purchased tunes to
DRM-free status via the Wal-Mart service, which is one feature that iTunes does