Wal-Mart has joined the likes of Amazon.com and iTunes today - it is offering MP3 downloads, free of DRM. Much as it's hard to applaud anything Wal-Mart does, it is a major step when the world's largest retailer signs up.
Wal-Mart announces the launch of "DRM-free" MP3 music downloads, now available online at http://www.walmart.com. At only 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 iPod(R), iPhone(R) and Zune(TM) 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.
Nicely, Wal-Mart does not appear to be charging a premium for DRM-free tracks - which iTunes does. As more retailers and studios "see the light" and sign up for DRM-free music, are we entering the "golden age" of downloadable music? Well, major labels like Sony BMG Music Entertainment and Warner Music Group are still "testing the waters" and have not signed up for DRM-free downloads - but things are definitely looking up.