Print 17 comment(s) - last by Oregonian2.. on Aug 24 at 3:26 PM

Wal-Mart DRM-free Music  (Source: Image Via Wal-Mart)
Wal-Mart joins iTunes in selling DRM-free music tracks from EMI and Universal

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 used DRM.

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 idea.

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 offer.

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By daftrok on 8/22/2007 7:25:20 PM , Rating: 2
Some competition between iTunes and Wal-mart. Perhaps we'll have cheaper music sooner

RE: Finally!
By TomZ on 8/22/2007 7:39:51 PM , Rating: 5
I agree, and with any luck, Wal-Mart's use of MP3 will help crush AAC.

RE: Finally!
By Pirks on 8/23/2007 11:51:43 AM , Rating: 1
Why you don't like AAC? It's an open standard, sound quality is better than MP3 with the same bitrate. There are players that support AAC, for example Microsoft Zune. I would be hoping exact opposite, if I were you - that AAC actually crushes ancient MP3 and becomes a new industry standard. 256kbit AAC is better than 256kbit MP3 quality-wise, justifying extra 5 sents you pay iTunes - you pay for sound quality.

RE: Finally!
By TomZ on 8/23/2007 12:56:46 PM , Rating: 3
I prefer MP3 since my existing players recognize it (even my 5-year old Rio), my car uses it, my app on the PC recognizes it, etc. None of those devices have a clue about AAC.

RE: Finally!
By Moishe on 8/23/2007 7:38:47 AM , Rating: 3
I went and bought an MP3 yesterday to see how difficult it is... it was easy and I didn't have to install software. If they would extend the selection a bit I would pick up more stuff.

Frankly, this is a good thing for Walmart and the consumer. Walmart is a serious player and has the cash and clout to back a decent music sales system.

Are you kidding me?
By mindless1 on 8/23/2007 2:05:27 AM , Rating: 2
You'd have to be an idiot, to try to save 6 cents to get DRM 128Kb instead of 256Mb DRM free. WTF where they thinking with their pricing model?

Not to insult, as this is great, I just don't see the logic in offering the craptacular version for only 6 cents less.

RE: Are you kidding me?
By bobsonthegreat on 8/23/2007 5:17:02 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe they're trying to get people to buy the new format that they're advertising with relish and abandon? Just a thought.

RE: Are you kidding me?
By marvdmartian on 8/23/2007 9:28:50 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe they're trying to get people to understand the the DRM-free is a better choice, especially as it's not much more money. Remember, not everyone is as savvy as the folks that hang around here. And for those that don't know better, and don't know that DRM is a PITA, they'll think it's cool that they save a few cents on their music track. (eye roll)

RE: Are you kidding me?
By Xenoterranos on 8/23/2007 9:48:36 AM , Rating: 2
That 6 cents off represents a GreatValue. :P

RE: Are you kidding me?
By Oregonian2 on 8/24/2007 3:26:37 PM , Rating: 2
I'm surprised there aren't any postings attacking Walmart for charging more for non-DRM'd tunes or having DRM'ed ones at all (Apple was attacked in this way). So to be fair to Apple, consider it done.

By BMFPitt on 8/22/2007 9:37:15 PM , Rating: 5
They probably had some 7 year old Chinese kids ripping CDs to build this...just out of habit.

RE: WalMart
By ebakke on 8/22/2007 10:47:22 PM , Rating: 2
I can't tell if that was a joke, or if you're one of those people who could actually make a statement like that out of your deeply cemented hatred for Wal-Mart.

By OutsidaII on 8/23/2007 1:15:16 AM , Rating: 2
Walmart only sells edited CDs in their stores so isn't it likely that this will be the case for their DRM free mp3. If not then I say it's a perfectly viable competitor to iTunes.

RE: Edited??
By Xenoterranos on 8/23/2007 9:49:53 AM , Rating: 2
That's actually my only concern. I'd gladly pay these prices for non-DRM tunes, as long as they're the actual, entire song

I'm All For Competition But...
By kelmon on 8/23/2007 3:09:02 AM , Rating: 1
...why is this service Windows-only? Walmart clearly wants to replace iTunes as the means by which people obtain music for their iPods so why does this service only work with Windows Media Player or via a Windows browser? I had no issue with these design decisions when they were selling Microsoft DRM'ed files since you could only play them on Windows or via MP3 players that connected to Media Player but now that these shackles have been released it seems dumb not to provide the downloads to everyone. Clearly, if Walmart wishes to appeal to iPod owners then they need to provide a good means of getting these MP3 files into iTunes since the iTunes Store is much more convenient at this time.

In fairness the Windows-oriented nature of the service doesn't impact me since I'm outside the US only but it does seem a bizarre decision.

By konekobot on 8/23/2007 4:44:15 AM , Rating: 2
Read the article again. The non-DRM version comes as an mp3 file. Only the WMA version has DRM. The non-DRM version will work on anything.

Good news
By Rotkiv on 8/23/2007 7:19:58 AM , Rating: 2
The music will not be made in China.

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