Apple 'close to cloud music deals'
Apple is close to completing deals with the major record labels to provide a cloud music storage service, according to reports.
Apple has just agreed a deal with EMI Music, according to "multiple industry sources" cited by technology news service CNET.
The website reports that Apple has had a deal in place with Warner Music for some time and is close to completing deals with Universal Music and Sony Music.
A ‘cloud’ music storage service allows customers to store their music on an online server which they can then access from any computer or mobile device. In short, it means an end to having to carry your music around with you on a mobile phone or MP3 player.
Both Google and Amazon have launched similar services in the US in the last few weeks. However, neither company has done licensing deals with the labels, arguing that since the music being uploaded to cloud servers is music the users already own, no licenses are required.
The labels disagree with the position Google and Amazon have taken. Apple’s ability to launch a licensed service will mean they can simply scan a user's hard drive for music and make those files available for streaming. This approach was pioneered by Lala, the music service that Apple bought in 2009, and would be much quicker than requiring users to upload their MP3s manually.
Though those cloud music services are not available in Britain, Spotify already scans a users hard drive and will make available any licensed songs that are on its servers.
CNET doesn’t say when Apple plans to launch its cloud music service. Apple’s annual developer conference, WWDC, begins on June 6 with a keynote address at which a major announcement is expected. However, Apple has usually made its music-related announcements at its September iPod event.
According to CNET, Apple’s will charge a subscription fee for its cloud service. It remains to be seen whether people will pay to access music they already own or whether Apple will need to tempt them with other features.