Walmart Wants to Give You Spotify to Keep You From Amazon Prime – TheStreet

Walmart  (WMT) – Get Walmart Inc. Report launched its online membership program Walmart+ in 2020, offering unlimited same-day delivery from many of its stores, early access to Black Friday deals and fuel discounts from participating gas stations. 
It was a bit of a departure for the brand, which had previously never shown much interest in loyalty programs. The service was launched as the retailer giants’ response to Amazon Prime  (AMZN) – Get, Inc. Report, which has been eating into physical retail since launching in 2005. With a price point of $98 a year, it was a good deal cheaper than Prime’s standard $139 a year.
With more than $555 billion in sales last year, the company wasn’t exactly suffering, but once online grocery delivery became increasingly normalized during the pandemic, the company couldn’t afford to let Amazon run the table completely.
Walmart didn’t disclose membership numbers for the service during its last earnings call, but the Deutsche Bank estimated it had 32 million members, and its momentum was ramping up. But with Amazon Prime having more than 200 million members worldwide at the end of last year, according to its fourth-quarter earnings report, Walmart needed to pull out the stops a bit more to catch up.
So now, Walmart is partnering with Spotify  (SPOT) – Get Spotify Technology SA Report to encourage people to give its service a chance.
Image source: Shuttertock.
As of March 10, Walmart+ members will get six months free of Spotify, a company that could use a little bit of good publicity right now. And from Spotify’s perspective, this gets them in front of a customer base, described by Business Insider as “between 55 and 64 years old,” that are not early adopters of new technology.
Walmart teaming up with a music streaming service has a historical parallel. Back in the ‘90s and early ‘00s when the CD was still king, Walmart was one of the biggest music stores in America. It also famously ruled with a heavy hand, and demanded that any album it cared not contain swear words. Many artists chafed at this, but under pressure from their labels, which didn’t want to alienate a powerful retailer, relented and made changes. 
This why the Nirvana song “Rape Me” on In Utero is labeled “Waif Me” on the version sold in Walmart, and songs from artists such as Eminem and the late DMX were so heavily bleeped that they became borderline nonsensical. 
At the moment, there’s no reported limit on what Walmart+ customers can stream through their Spotify account, so they’re free to listen to “W.A.P.” over and over to their heart’s content.
In addition to giving its members free music for half a year, Walmart (one of the country’s largest employers) has also announced that all of its 1.6 million full-tme and part-time employees will get a free Walmart+ membership. 
This will, presumably, be a way for Walmart to report an increase in its membership numbers. But Walmart, like every company, has been struggling with hiring new employees and to retain its existing ones during the COVID-19 induced mass resignation.
It has offered bonuses to warehouse workers and covered 100% of college tuition and textbook costs for employees, and giving them Walmart+as a perk is the latest way for the company to remain staffed up as COVID-19 restrictions loosen.
Michael Tedder is a breaking news writer for TheStreet.


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