Apple Cloud music service could be imminentDeals reportedly signed with major music labels

19 May 2011

Apple Cloud Music service

Apple could join Google and Amazon in offering a Cloud-based music service

Apple is planning to launch a new Cloud music service with full licensing agreements in place, according to a Cnet report.

Apple has reportedly reached agreements with both Warner Music Group and EMI Music to offer their digital music catalogues via its own Cloud-based music service. Deals with Sony Music Group and Universal Music group are also reported to be imminent, meaning that Apple would then have contracts in place with all four top global music labels.

The Cloud refers to a network-based storage system where, in the case of Cloud music services, listeners' music is stored on third-party servers rather than their own local PC or portable device. They access the MP3 files via a net connection and stream the music to their computer, smartphone or tablet.

Google last week announced its own Cloud-based music service - 'Google Music' - which gives each user storage for up to 20,000 MP3s, but doesn't offer an integrated way to buy and download music. Amazon's Cloud Player offers a similar service, where users can upload their own music to a 'digital locker' and then stream the music to compatible devices. Both Amazon and Google's services are unlicensed, as they simply allow users to store their own music remotely.

Related: How to buy the best MP3 player

Apple could offer more features than Amazon and Google

By licensing the music it will store, Apple could offer users features that Amazon and Google cannot currently match. Rather than users spending hours uploading their own digital music collection to their Cloud servers, Apple could scan users' music files and provide access to its own master copies of those tracks, stored remotely, in a process called 'scan and match'. Scan and match is a feature of the Lala music service, which Apple purchased in 2009.

Music industry sources, quoted in the Cnet report, said they did not know when Apple would officially announce or roll out the Apple Cloud music service. It is also unclear whether Apple plans to charge for subscription to its Cloud-based music service.

Apple's service, if launched, will go also head-to-head with streaming services such as Spotify, which recently announced it would start selling music in addition to its subscription model. It also added support of iPod syncing to its desktop application, though it's yet to launch its service in the important US market.

Read our free in-depth guide on how to listen to free music online using Spotify.

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