With physical music sales on a downward slope, Wal-Mart is considering reducing its CD shelf space for more lucrative products like DVDs and video games. Needless to say, the prospect of this event would be highly damaging to the music industry. Along with other "big-box" stores like Best Buy and Target, Wal-Mart accounts for roughly 65% of total CD sales, according to a report in Wall Street Journal.
"Recently, Wal-Mart has quietly circulated word to major-label distribution executives that it will reduce the space devoted to music, perhaps by as much twenty percent, in hundreds of its stores," said the report. "Some record label executives say they have heard similar warnings in the past that have not materialized."
What would this mean for independent music? With the demise of Tower last year, a company that supported the medium-to-bigger-sized indie labels, the effects on independent music were financially damaging. Wal-Mart, however, isn't known for its staunch support of independent music. Sure, the big boys of indies will likely lose space on the shelves, but this move would be much more devastating to the future of major label domination.
On the digital front, Wal-Mart intends to increase focus on its 88-cent digital downloads. But with a teeny independent music selection and downloads that only play on portable devices that support protected WMA files (Mac is not supported!), Wal-Mart will continue to remain virtually insignificant to independent music supporters. Major labels, on the other hand, better hope Wal-Mart's shitty digital service improves, or they will have to search elsewhere to pick up the slack.