Wal-Mart Undercuts iTunes With DRM-Free DownloadsAug 21st, 2007 | By James Lewin | Category: Digital Music, iPhone, iPods & Portable Media Players
It looks breaking Apple’s lock on digital music downloads is so important to the music industry that¬† record companies are willing to not only offer DRM-free tracks, but offer them at lower prices.
Wal-Mart announced today the launch of DRM-free MP3 music downloads. At 94 cents per track and $9.22 per album, they are undercutting Apple’s prices for both singles and albums with DRM. Wal-Mart’s offerings should be compatible with virtually any music player, including iPods, Zunes, iPhones and computers. 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.
“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. “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 is also offering something that both record labels and customers have said they wanted – variable pricing. Wal-Mart is currently offering discounts on digital versions of some older album releases, including Come Away With Me by Norah Jones, Be Here by Keith Urban, Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi and Get Rich or Die Tryin’ by 50 Cent at prices as low as $5.88 per album. Wal-Mart isn’t pricing new releases at a premium yet, though, something that the labels ultimately want.
Wal-Mart will continue to offer its existing WMA-format music downloads. Thus, 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.