Wal-Mart Ditches DRM... And Lots Of Major Label Music With It

from the so-long,-goodbye dept

Over the last few months, the meme has taken hold that the big record labels had finally come to terms with the fact that DRM didn't help and only frustrated users -- and was finally okay with getting rid of it entirely. That sounds good, but it appears that the labels are still having trouble letting go. Wal-Mart's online download store has finally abandoned selling any DRM'd tracks, but with it, it's lost almost all music from major labels like Sony/BMG and Warner Music. Considering that some really major acts appear on both labels, this seems like a rather huge limitation of the Wal-Mart online store which should be trying to present a rather strong front against iTunes. It's unclear who's at fault here. Wired blames Wal-Mart for launching the DRM-free store before it was really ready, but there's an equal chance that the fault is on the part of the record labels who still don't seem completely comfortable with finally killing off DRM.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ima Fish, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 10:02am

    "It's unclear who's at fault here."

    No fault, simply arrogance. Wal-mart decided to open an online DRM-free music store. Being the 2-ton gorilla it is, it saw no reason to work out deals with the music industry. It will create the store and require DRM-free music or it will simply refuse to sell it.

    And of course the music industry is arrogant for not recognizing the failure of DRMed music in the first place.

    Since the major labels are licensing Amazon DRM-free music, it's only a matter of time before Wal-mart gets it too. So in the end Wal-mart will win out over the labels.

     

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  2.  
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    Jake, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 10:19am

    Oddly enough, or perhaps not depending on one's point of view, Sony/BMG seem to have made an exception for Neil Diamond's back catalogue.

     

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  3.  
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    Twinrova, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 10:27am

    The other option is that...

    ... Walmart wants to get out of the online business?

    Seems a drastic move on their part to relinquish its #1 status so fast after Apple's takeover.

    The market dwindles yet again.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 10:32am

    Foot Shooting

    It seems to me that the labels are shooting themselves in the here. Refusing to sell their music on-line through the US's biggest retailer doesn't appear to be the smartest move. But I guess they're free to just take their music and go home with it if they want to, for all the good it'll do them.

     

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  5.  
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    discojohnson, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 10:33am

    Re:

    I'm thinking you're on the mark. Walmart knows its market share on every front, and probably recognizes that it's not worth taking tech support calls for DRM related issues constantly, which is only making Walmart less relevant in the online music store industry. Kudos to Walmart for having enough sack to do it. Walmart is about driving prices down constantly, and this is just another way to make that happen. Look at what happened when Walmart decided to start carrying big screen tvs: the manufacturers were being forced to make even cheaper entry-level displays; or when Walmart dropped loads of magazines--just not enough money in it and the money makers were kept. The labels will play ball because in the end, they don't want Walmart to decide to carry even less music on their shelves.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 10:38am

    Another Perspective

    Is it possible that this is Wal-Mart's way of telling the labels, "You license DRM-free music to us, or you lose your access to our customers"? In which case, I applaud them. If they are indeed the 600-pound gorilla, then I have no problem with them using their muscle to force the issue. It's a gamble, but I think the labels need them more than they need the labels.

     

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  7.  
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    snowburn14, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 10:55am

    Re: Another Perspective

    "Is it possible that this is Wal-Mart's way of telling the labels, "You license DRM-free music to us, or you lose your access to our customers"? "

    I didn't think there was any other way of interpreting this... I mean, it may be other things as well - like the tech support issues discojohnson mentioned - but that would still be just part of the whole 'get rid of DRM or else' message.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 10:57am

    Or is that no one wants to buy music from Walmart? I honestly thought they stopped selling it about a year ago.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 11:06am

    Wal-Mart Ditches DRM... And Lots Of Major Label Music With It

    Good!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 11:45am

    great. maybe this will incite it into looking for more independent/non-mainstream music.

    Sorry, but I'm officially and entirely done with MTV's and Clearchannel's offerings, and as a successful dj, I'm glad I can say that.

     

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  11.  
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    PRMan, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 12:14pm

    Really?

    walmart.com sells downloadable music?

     

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  12.  
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    Known Coward, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 12:21pm

    Beatles

    Any chance they'll have the Beatles?

     

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  13.  
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    James, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 12:24pm

    Another Perspective

    Wal-Mart has the power. All Wal-Mart needs to do is stop carrying any cd etc from record labels that won’t provide drm free music.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Another Perspective

    Yeah that will work.

     

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  15.  
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    Joel Coehoorn, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 12:43pm

    Apple sells music at a loss to get people to buy iPods. Walmart sells music for less than Apple ($.88US). So unless Wal-mart got a much better deal out of the labels (which I guess is possible, but unlikely), they also sell music at a loss, and presumably for the same reason: to sell mp3 players. So why should Wal-mart continue to lose money selling music when Apple and Amazon are perfectly willing to do that part for them? Wal-mart has iPods, after all.

     

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  16.  
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    Online Music Buyer, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 12:52pm

    It's what they do.

    This is no different than what Wal*Mart does with all of their suppliers. You want to sell to WM? You've got to play by their rules. If not, WM won't sell your goods and your company will lose tremendous market share. Usually, this is regarded as a bad thing as it can squash out the small-market, 'mom & pop-style' suppliers.

    But since most of us geeks want to see high quality, DRM-free music available online, this is a good thing. WM may not have as big of an online presence as some other stores, but they're still absolutely a dominant force for consumer sales in general. Just like when you watched your class bully overstep his bounds and get beat up by some older kid, I'm delighted to see WM put some pressure on the record labels. Go get 'em, smiley-face of doom!

    Oh, and drop your lawsuit against the brain-damaged woman already.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 12:59pm

    But you still have to install shit to buy it...

    ...I never purchased music from WM because of the DRM... But not everything is available on Amazon. I finally gave in today and went to find a song that I love from WM. I figured I'd burn it to a disk, delete all, and rip it from the disc to remove the DRM... And then I saw that they now only sell DRM-free mp3s! I was ecstatic...

    Until I tried to buy the song I was looking for and was told that my computer needed an 'update' to purchase the music. The 'update' consists of a vaguely described installation that seems to have something to do with downloading the song. That's really all it tells you. And the average consumer really will believe that they're getting an 'update' and go blithely along.

    I would rather pay 9 bucks for the whole album with the song I want than have thier shit on my computer.

     

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  18.  
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    Bobbknight, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 1:01pm

    All Walmart Needs To Do

    All Walmart needs to do is give out a 5 download coupon, at the register. If that were to happen I tunes would be history and the record companies would step in line.

     

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  19.  
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    Overcast, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 1:10pm

    Dang... almost makes me want to use it, lol

     

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  20.  
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    Borse, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 1:20pm

    If walmart is able to bully the music industry, like it does every other supplier it buys from, the music industry is truly done for.

    Besides... They need to start implementing new business models that utilize DRM free music before they start actually selling, imho.

     

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  21.  
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    redhammy, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 1:37pm

    Re: But you still have to install shit to buy it...

    Rose, Amazon MP3 requires you to install their "downloader" software as well. I'm pretty sure that's how they make sure you are downloading what you paid for. I haven't bought from walmart, but I bet its a similar app.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 1:46pm

    Re:

    No, they don't. Where did you get that information, because it is completely wrong. They make a nice profit.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anne, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Re: But you still have to install shit to buy it...

    You don't have to install the Amazon Mp3 app in order to download their music. I've been rotting my teeth and using Pepsi points to download free music from Amazon. The sound quality is better than Itunes and it really is genuinely DRM-free. However not all of Amazon's MP3 songs can be paid for with Pepsi points.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 2:25pm

    lolwut

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 4:28pm

    That's not true at all.

    No, you don't. That's just dumb. You must not shop there at all.

    You do have to have it to download an entire album at one time instead of clicking each song individually, but clicking each song individually is a very not big deal and for me (cable internet) it seems faster to click them individually.

    So please check your facts before you post.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Rose M. Welch, Apr 8th, 2008 @ 4:28pm

    Re: Re: But you still have to install shit to buy it...

    No, you don't. That's just dumb. You must not shop there at all.

    You do have to have it to download an entire album at one time instead of clicking each song individually, but clicking each song individually is a very not big deal and for me (cable internet) it seems faster to click them individually.

    So please check your facts before you post.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    frank, Apr 9th, 2008 @ 7:29am

    Re:

    let's just say you have NO IDEA what you're talking about. this is frankly a ridiculous comment: Being the 2-ton gorilla it is, it saw no reason to work out deals with the music industry.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Joel Coehoorn, Apr 23rd, 2008 @ 11:25am

    Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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