MTV, Real, and Wal-Mart shake up digital music

The digital music industry is headed for a crossroads, as more stores and record labels try out DRM-free music sales, and as some of the bigger names in digital music team up to offer a new service.

MTV and Real Networks announced in August that they would create a new music service based on Real's Rhapsody service and MTV's music content and packaging. Verizon will deliver portions of the service through its V Cast music offering.

Verizon will eventually allow for tunes purchased through V Cast to be accessible through a Rhapsody account and for transfer of music from a Rhapsody account to a mobile phone.

At press time, MTV and Real had not set a launch date for the new service.

Meanwhile, Rhapsody and Wal-Mart began selling DRM-free selections from Universal's music catalog, and Real Networks CEO Rob Glaser believes that 2008 will be the year DRM-free goes mainstream for purchased digital music.

Recently, Apple debuted a new iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store that lets iPod Touch and iPhone owners purchase songs directly on their devices. The devices will also enjoy free Wi-Fi access at Starbucks locations in 2008.

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