Apple’s proprietary streaming music service has been the subject of many a discussion and speculation over the past few weeks. Apple is expected to launch new versions of iOS as well as Mac OS-X at its annual WWDC event which is to be held in San Francisco on June 10th, less than two weeks from now. Fresh reports suggest that Apple is going all out to settle all its licensing deals for the Internet radio service in time before WWDC kicks off. The new Internet radio service will reportedly be called iRadio.
Word from the New York Times as well as the Wall Street Journal is that Apple has already closed a deal with two of the three major music labels – Universal and Warner Music Group, which gets it closer to be able to start its streaming service. The Warner Music deal was inked sometime on Sunday, and is a first to include both – music recording and publishing rights. As part of the deal, Apple will reportedly pay Warner Music Group 10 percent of Ad revenue, which is significantly higher that than what Internet radio biggie Pandora pays major music publishers.
With Universal and Warner in the bag, this leaves Apple with just one more licensing deal to sign, and that is Sony Music, and word on the street is that Apple is extremely optimistic that it would be ready to unveil iRadio as early as WWDC, which as reported earlier, kicks off on June 10th. Apple is reportedly still in discussion with Sony Music Entertainment as well as its publishing arm Sony A/TV. In theory, Apple could still launch the streaming music service with the licensing deals it already has. Having said that, the absence of the artistes tied to the Sony label could cause a significant gap in how iRadio is received by users.
With Apple reportedly pulling out all the plugs in an attempt to announce iRadio at WWDC, alongside the next iterations of iOS and Mac OS-X, it is likely that the new service is already integrated into both operating systems, in the same way as iTunes is. There is also the possibility that it may be included as part of an updated iTunes app. Apple’s chief competitor Google, beat them to the chase by announcing its own Google All Access Music service a few weeks ago at its annual Google I/O event, and laid on additional pressure by announcing that a native iOS app would also be released in the next few weeks for iOS users wanting to access the service. Google Access Music offers unlimited access to the Google Play Music Library as well as personalized internet radio. With that, Apple is likely to push harder in order to wrap up all pending licensing deals, including Sony Music, well in time for a WWDC announcement.
iRadio is Apple’s answer to popular streaming music services like Spotify or Pandora, and is expected to function pretty much in the same way, and include ability to personalize music streams based on preferred artistes as well as the user’s music library. Apple already has a captive audience which purchases music through iTunes, and getting it to take advantage of an integrated unlimited music service shouldn’t be too difficult. There is no official confirmation yet from Apple on whether or not iRadio would be launched on June 10th, but all eyes, and ears, would be tuned in to when Apple execs take the stage on the big day.