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Wal-Mart to close its MP3 store

Once the largest music seller in the U.S., the retail giant plans to close its download store at the end of the month.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil

Wal-Mart Stores plans to close its MP3 download store at the end of the month after spending years as an also-ran to Apple's iTunes.

The retailer giant recently informed distribution and licensing partners of the impending closure in a letter first reported by the Digital Music News blog:

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 Wal-Mart U.S. retail stores will remain unaffected. Walmart Soundcheck (soundcheck.walmart.com) will remain operational as a live streaming site without any download options.

Once the largest music retailer in the U.S., Wal-Mart's attempts to crack the digital music market fell on deaf ears. Launched at the end of 2003, Wal-Mart's digital music store offered downloads for 88 cents while competitors such as Apple and Amazon price their singles at 99 cents.

But Wal-Mart's download store struggled to compete with iTunes, which overtook Wal-Mart as the largest music supplier with the decline in CD sales in recent years. Wal-Mart's share of the digital music market was 1.8 percent, according to NPD market data cited by AllThingsD. But by the end of 2010, that share had fallen to less than 1 percent, behind Amazon, Zune, Rhapsody, and Napster.