Wal-Mart sticks to its guns (no, not those guns)

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walmart music downloads

Wal-Mart's recent abandonment of WMA format for their download store shows that they do indeed know what they're doing and can respond to the emerging market in a fairly savvy fashion. Some of the majors still aren't on board -- which is pretty odd, given that they're participating in Amazon's MP3 store -- and Wal-Mart remains a hated corporate behemoth, especially for rural-dwelling soy-milk hippies like the Monkeyclaus team, but after nearly ten years of stagnancy and complete, utter, across-the-board stupidity with regard to online music retail, we have to back anything that moves us into the sensible, open market that will benefit honest consumers and independent musicians. (They're claiming they can't sell me mp3s because the Linux machine I'm posting this from is incompatible, which makes no sense, but hey, maybe we have to take baby steps here.)

This also casts doubt on our earlier assumption that Wal-Mart just wouldn't give a damn about music retail and Apple's ever-strengthening hold on it. At the same time, it lends credence to the spreading suspicion that the participation of major labels in Amazon's store is just a ploy to weaken iTunes -- why else would they care which retailers are selling the unprotected copies of their content? In many cases they're excluding iTunes, and now they seem to be doing the same for Wal-Mart. One has to wonder whether they have some back-room deals with Amazon that Wal-Mart was not willing to duplicate.

Either way, the beauty of using a non-contaminated format like MP3 is that it lets everyone in and creates a level playing field, no matter how large or small the outfit may be. Yes, it's good for us, and our enthusiasm here is self-serving. But the thing is, it's also good for you -- unless your last name is Bronfman, that is.

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