When I saw the news that Wal-Mart was shutting down its online music store, I had the same reaction that most of you probably did: Wait, Wal-Mart still has an online music store? The retailing giant started up its online music store in the wake of Apple's success with the iTunes Store, and like many of the MP3 sellers of that era--MSN Music, Yahoo! Music, and so on--it's now dead. (Some others remain, however: Amazon MP3 is obviously still very popular, and MSN Music migrated to the short-lived MTV URGE and then Zune Marketplace. There are others.)
But Wal-Mart MP3 Music is dead. Or soon will be. And before that happens--on August 29, just over two weeks from now--customers who actually purchased music from the service can logon and re-download their purchases.
Since I test virtually every service that comes down the pike, I am one of those customers. And I received the following email from Wal-Mart this week:
As a valued music download customer at Walmart.com, we're writing to inform you that we'll no longer offer this service as of August 29, 2011.
You will still be able to enjoy the digital music you purchased and downloaded from Walmart.com. Your complete purchase history and the ability to authorize/deauthorize any DRM-protected WMA files you may have purchased is currently available until August 29 at http://mp3.walmart.com and, after we close the service, will be available again beginning September 12. Any MP3 files you purchased from Walmart can be moved to multiple new computers, as usual.
If you have credit left on an MP3 Music Gift Card that you've used in the past, we will send a Walmart eGift Card of equal value to this email address automatically. No action is required on your part to receive this eGift card, which will be sent to you by September 12.
If you have an MP3 Music Gift Card that you haven't used, we will provide you a chance to convert them. Please visit http://mp3.walmart.com on or after September 12 to redeem your current gift card for a Walmart.com eGift Card of equal value, which can be used as cash to purchase any available items from Walmart.com.
For more information, you can contact Wal-Mart customer service via email.
I was curious to see what I had purchased from Wal-Mart. There were two albums, both from 2007. And in case you were worried that this closure is somehow terrible, take a look at how awful it is.
Oh the humanity: Why must all the truly useful online stores shut down?