Walmart's digital music store will be closing at the end of the month, according to a leaked memo first published on Digital Music News.
Walmart's MP3 store was first launched in 2004, with DRM encrypted downloads, which were eventually removed in 2007 to compete with the then DRM-free iTunes. But despite heavy discounting, Walmart's digital music venture seems to have come to an end, due to the inability to compete with the better user experience offered by iTunes.
"After eight years in business, the Walmart Music Downloads Store located at mp3.walmart.com will close on August 28, 2011. All content in the Store will be disabled and no longer available for download from the store.
"The sale of physical record music products on Walmart.com as well as in Walmart US retail stores will remain unaffected. Walmart Soundcheck (soundcheck.walmart.com) will remain operational as a live streaming site without any download options," the leaked memo said.
But what does this mean for all those that purchased DRM encrypted music before 2007? Walmart tried to shut off its DRM servers in 2008, but met with a strong public backlash, the shopping giant backtracked and reinstated DRM authentication.
Luckily, Walmart seems to have learned from this last incident, and has promised to keep the DRM servers online, for now at least. "We'll continue to provide support to our customers who previously purchased digital music through Walmart Music Downloads so they may continue to enjoy and manage their existing WMA files," a Walmart representative told Digital Music News.
The biggest criticism of DRM has always been that "buyers" have to rely on the kindness of corporations to keep their "purchases" usable, and Walmart's struggles also show the cost of DRM for content sellers, who have to keep on maintaining expensive DRM servers indefinitely until some point where the public backlash isn't as great.