Despite market changes, Walmart is still the No. 1 U.S. seller of CDs
No matter which way you slice it, Walmart continues to be a force in the music business. When the merchant makes a request, labels jump to attention. In its latest twist to differentiate itself, during the year-end holidays Walmart experimented with including download cards with hit physical CDs, and the labels were mostly accommodating. It remains to be seen where the gambit goes, but whether the store is continuing with download cards or using the ZinePak to differentiate its music business, the labels generally play ball with the top seller of physical music product.
Tifanie Van Laar-Frever heads up Walmart’s music efforts, working closely with rackjobber Anderson Merchandisers to ensure music is properly merchandised in the store.
In a day and age where big merchants are either abandoning or downsizing their music presence, Van Laar-Frever continues to be “an incredible advocate for the music industry,” Anderson executive VP/GM Steve McClanahan told Billboard earlier this year. In fact, in another move that has labels excited, Walmart has begun placing some CDs outside the music department, particularly in food aisles, when it makes promotional sense.
Clearly Walmart isn’t resting on its laurels, and that’s a good thing. It’s the No. 2 account, far behind iTunes’ 40% market share, with 8%-10% of music sales, Billboard estimates, making it the largest seller of CDs. But according to sources in label sales and distribution, its main competitor on the physical side, Target, has been gaining at Walmart’s expense.