Developing: Sony BMG, Warner Music Downloads Missing at Wal-Mart

  • Save

Downloads from Sony BMG and Warner Music Group artists are now unavailable at Wal-Mart’s online music store, potentially the result of a licensing impasse between the parties.

Following a tip Thursday afternoon, Digital Music News discovered that tracks were “not available for download” for a broad list of artists from both labels.

That includes marquee releases from Sony BMG artists Sara Bareilles, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Neil Diamond, and Sean Kingston; and Warner Music Group artists Madonna, Nickelback, Goo Goo Dolls, Missy Elliott, and Ray Charles.

In some cases, songs from these artists are bundled into compilations distributed by other labels, or released through earlier recording contracts.  Those songs are available, though songs directly released by Sony BMG and Warner Music Group are not.  Songs from artists signed to majors Universal Music Group and EMI were available on the destination.

Digital Music News contacted representatives at all three companies, though the issue was discovered late in the business day.  But one source tied into the situation pointed to show-stopping disagreements related to the licensing of DRM-free content.  The source blamed the labels for demanding onerous concessions in exchange for DRM-free licensing approvals, though specific demands could not be confirmed.

The developments come as Wal-Mart shifts exclusively into an MP3-only environment.  “We are no longer offering songs in WMA format and are focusing on bringing you the very best that music downloads can offer in the most popular format – MP3,” the destination notes at the top of its FAQ.  In August of last year, the store announced the availability of MP3s from EMI and Universal Music.