Friday, May 20, 2011

Sony BMG signs deal with Apple, leaving only UMG out of its cloud-based music service

The major music labels are all falling in line quickly for Apple's iCloud music service. The latest to sign a deal with Apple is Sony BMG, meaning 3 of the big 4 music labels have signed agreements with the Cupertino, CA-based tech giant.

That leaves only the biggest, and probably the hardest for Apple to deal with: Universal Music Group. However, Apple would also need to negotiate deals with music publishers, which hold different rights than the music labels.

Apple is trailing in the race to cloud-based music. Both and Google have already rolled out their own version of cloud-based music services, which allow users to stream their music from the Internet, instead of having to store the tracks locally on their devices.

However, neither nor Google managed to come to terms with the music labels. Because of that, users have to upload their tracks to the cloud. In Apple's case, if it completes all the necessary deals, it could (as expected) use the scan-and-match" technology from its Lala acquisition from 2009.

With "scan-and-match" Apple can scan the hard drives of end users, determine what music is there, and then give the users' access to "master music tracks." Apple had been expected to roll out the service, which is believed to be called iCloud, during its annual September music event, but the speed of the deals could mean the company can announce the service as early as its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC), which begins on June 6.

It's unclear if iCloud will be separate from a revamp of Apple's much-maligned MobileMe service, which is also expected to roll out later this year. It is also unclear if Apple will charge a fee, but it's been rumored that there will be some subscription fee involved. Both Google and Apple have made their services free, for now.

Via: Bloomberg

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