I can't believe I'm down to defending the vanilla pudding of retail that most of you know as Wal-Mart
Oh, right. It's the censorship thing. Fellow Fool Alyce Lomax wrote about it yesterday. A few of you wrote me earlier this week to point out the same thing, shortly after I said that the unlikely Wal-Mart may take a bite out of Apple's
Wal-Mart loves to play the moral police. It's usually the first one to pull naughty Take-Two Interactive
Musicians may feel that it compromises their art, but it's a game they know all too well. Labels routinely clean up songs to get their artists on the radio and into family-friendly chains like Wal-Mart.
Give people a choice, one might say. Amazon.com
It probably isn't you. When it comes to music, you want your Green Day and your 50 Cent in their unedited glory. You go for the unrated director's cut when you rent a DVD. You're an adult. You don't need to shield your eyes, ears, or imagination.
OK. So if you're not buying censored music -- even if you have little choice but to consume it via terrestrial radio -- then who is? Who could possibly want a storefront that's free of music with explicit lyrical content? I'm not talking about parental controls that can potentially be undone by crafty kids; I'm talking about the foolproof parental control of not stocking it at all behind the virtual glass wall.
You don't need to caravan through the Bible Belt to find families with young iPod-earbud-donning kiddies. Do you think they may actually appreciate the same gated MP3 storefront at Walmart.com that you find so artistically oppressive?
You hate boy bands. You push over smug kids who are gliding through the mall on their Heelys. You're a rebel, like the renegade artists whose work you consume. Heck, maybe you're the person who picks up the crying Heelys kid off the floor, lends an encouraging smile, then gets back to your Slipknot. Who am I to judge your values based on how you like your music? By the same token, who am I to judge folks who'd prefer their tunes to be a little less blue? If the concept is so appalling, do you think Wal-Mart would have grown to become the world's largest retailer? Even XM Satellite Radio
If I'd stuffed this article with randy language -- and for all you know, I may very well have done so -- what do you think its chances of getting through the editorial process might have been? Even my earlier bedpan reference might not see the light of day. Did it? It did? Good! So does that make Fool.com worthless if it, too, doesn't want to fill up your monitor with explicit content? Does that make any of the newsletter recommendations any less worthy? Sanitizing art may be an unsavory concept, but there's clearly a market out there for it.
Maybe it shouldn't surprise you that Disney's
No, it's not you. It's certainly not me. However, as a parent, I'm not entirely sure that I want my 9- and 13-year-old boys exposed to extreme lyrical content. I trust the latter to do the right thing when I stuff his allowance into his iTunes account, but I know a lot of families that don't feel that way. So maybe that supposedly horrific disadvantage can play as an advantage to a slice of the market that may not be all that thin.
That's all that it would take to make a nibble in the market, right?
Sure, Wal-Mart is a bedpan, but that can be a powerful weapon when whacked over the right head.
So, to recap:
- I thought Wal-Mart made a smart move to MP3s.
- Our readers didn't necessarily agree.
- Then, Foolish writer Alyce Lomax didn't agree.
- And now, Fool contributor Tim Beyers chimes in for Apple.
Wal-Mart is an active stock pick for Inside Value newsletter subscribers. Amazon.com and Disney have been recommended to Stock Advisor subscribers. No matter how you like your lyrics, a free 30-day trial subscription to either newsletter service is yours for the taking.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz actually likes vanilla pudding. He owns shares of Disney. He is part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.