Bad Ideas, but Boundless Optimism

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You have to admire the fortitude that it takes to embrace an idea that has failed time and time again, and still present it as an “innovation:” Billboard PostPlay gushes that Walmart’s On-Demand Music Kiosks [are] A Potential Hit.

I don’t pay a lot of attention to the music world and — off the top of my head — I can still come up with three times that this exact idea has flopped. And when you get into the details of this offering it becomes even less appealing:

Walmart offers approximately 375,000 songs, compared to iTunes 1MM+; when selecting from the rather limited options, you pay $4.62 for a three song CD, with the ability to add up to 17 more songs at 88 cents each.

Let’s do the math…

Ordering online, you can get a spindle of 50 CD-Rs for about ten bucks (and you pay less if you search around or buy in larger quantites). On iTunes, a song costs $.99. That means that a creating your own three song CD at home costs you $3.17…about a buck and a half less than Walmart is charging. Even if you go up to 20 songs, your homegrown CD costs you $19.80, which is only about 22 cents more than the Walmart version. And you drove to Walmart, didn’t you? What with gas prices the way they are and all…

On the assumption that the target market for a custom mix CD is pop culture savvy teens and young adults, who probably own a computer with a CD burner and have probably heard of “the internet” and “iTunes” — or worse yet, “file sharing networks” — I find it hard to share PostPlay’s enthusiasm here.