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Wal-Mart Launches DRM-Free Music

8/21/2007 01:20:00 PM Eastern

Brisbane, Calif. — Wal-Mart officially added music without digital rights management (DRM) software to its download service, joining a growing movement to provide digital “unprotected” music that can be downloaded to almost any portable digital device.

Wal-Mart will sell DRM-free songs from record labels including Universal Music Group and EMI for 94 cents each or $9.22 per album at www.walmart.com. The songs can be played back on devices including the iPod, iPhone and Zune.

Wal-Mart’s DRM-free titles from EMI will be offered as a permanent feature on www.Walmart.com, but the Universal DRM-free titles are offered as part of a test market by that studio that will end in January.

Kevin Swint, Wal-Mart's senior director and divisional manager for digital media, said, “It’s our desire that Universal becomes a permanent” part of Wal-Mart’s DRM-free catalog. He also hopes that the success of DRM-free title sales will encourage Universal and other record labels to pursue DRM-free music sales.

The current Wal-Mart DRM-free catalog includes a few hundred thousand songs out of a total of more than 2 million songs (including DRM-protected songs) on the site. DRM-free songs are offered from artists such as The Rolling Stones, Coldplay, KT Tunstall, Amy Winehouse, Maroon 5, George Strait and Nelly.

Wal-Mart will also continue to sell DRM-protected WMA-format music downloads at 88 cents per track.

Apple added the ability to download DRM-free music from the EMI catalog this May and Amazon.com said it expects to offer DRM-free music later this year. Earlier this month, Universal said it will run from August to January a DRM-free market-trial through several sources including Google, Wal-Mart, Best Buy Digital Music Store, Rhapsody, Amazon.com and others.

Wal-Mart first launched its music download service in December 2003.