Wal-Mart starts selling DRM-free music online

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Wal-Mart is hopping on the DRM-free bandwagon and is ready to take on the market dominance of Apple's iTunes by offering prices below the $0.99 per track, $9.99 per album that Apple harvests – or $1.29 per DRM-free song.

The catalog will feature 256 kbps tracks from both EMI and Universal, priced at $0.94 apiece and full digital CDs at $9.22. Wal-Mart is playing up the compatibility across players since its music downloads can be played on Apple’s iPod and iPhone, Microsoft’s Zune, as well as other media players. The retailer noted that it will continue to offer its existing copy protected WMA-format music downloads at $0.88 a track for a 128 kbps version.

The deal with Universal is currently a six-month trial run, which the company claims is using to determine the viability of selling music without DRM. If successful, it’s likely other labels will be compelled to follow suit as they won’t be able to cling to the handcuffed DRM format for long.

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