Wal-Mart debuts low-priced DRM-free tunes

Wal-Mart's music download site joins iTunes and others today and now sells digital music downloads with no anticopying software. Wal-Mart DRM-free tracks will be from Universal and EMI Music. Prices start at 94 cents per track and US$9.22 per album. That's roughly 27 percent cheaper than Apple sells its EMI DRM-Free songs for. A single DRM-free EMI track from iTunes runs $1.29 via iTunes Plus.

DRM (digital rights management) software prevents owners from copying or freely using a digital file across multiple devices. Wal-Mart's DRM-free tracks will also be encoded at a higher sound quality than generally available previously on Wal-Mart. Those with keen ears argue tracks encoded at a higher sound quality sound better.

Wal-Mart shoppers have the option to purchase either a 256kbps MP3-encoded DRM-free song for 94 cents, or the usual 128kbps WMA-encoded DRM-version for 88 cents. ITunes charges $1.29 for 256kbps AAC-encoded DRM-free song and 99 cents for a 128kbps AAC-encoded DRM-version of a song.

EMI artists include Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Joss Stone, Pink Floyd, and John Coltrane. Still, no Beatles yet.

I scoured Wal-Mart hunting for DRM-free tracks and like the way the online store makes it easy to spot DRM-free tracks when they are available. Wal-Mart simply labels tracks in search results as either WMA or MP3. By contrast Apple's iTunes makes you set your search preferences to display iTunes Plus content alongside normal search results.

One thing that I was not able to spot on Wal-Mart's online music store is a feature that allows you to upgrade previously downloaded songs to DRM-free status. ITunes charges 30 cents for each song already downloaded or about $3.00 for most albums that you want to update to DRM status.

It also should be noted that stores like eMusic have been offering DRM-free music for years. The selection is limited, however, to recordings by indie labels.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tom Spring

PC World
Show Comments


Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >


Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >


Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >


Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?