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Report: Apple signs deal with EMI for cloud-music service

Apple cloudApple may well be the last one to the cloud-music party, but it could be bringing the biggest gift.

The Cupertino-based company continues to edge toward the launch of its cloud-based music service, with reports surfacing that it has just signed a cloud-music licensing agreement with EMI Music. Storing music in the cloud means a user can access their data wherever they are, so long as they have a device that can connect to the Internet.

According to Cnet’s Greg Sandoval, “multiple music industry sources” are also saying that Apple is on the verge of signing deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment. Apple has reportedly already secured a deal with Warner Music Group.

Once all of the dotted lines have been signed with the four major music companies, that would give Apple four more deals than Google or Amazon have for their respective cloud-based music services. Those two companies decided to launch services without licensing deals, with Google reportedly having had some serious difficulties in reaching agreements with the music labels. In late March, Amazon was apparently beginning to realize that having licenses may be a good idea after all, and as a result was going after such agreements – though there’s no word on those yet.

Not having deals places limitations on the kind of service that can be offered to users. For example, users have to upload tracks from their hard drive to the cloud. For people with thousands of music files on their computer, this will take a big chunk of time. There’s a chance that Apple’s service will be simpler for users – the company could scan a user’s music folder and then give instant access to master recordings on Apple servers. As for Google’s service, it doesn’t even have a music store in place and currently allows users to store up to 20,000 songs (you’d need a while to upload that many).

In his report, Sandoval says that the music companies are hoping that “Apple’s service makes [Amazon and Google] look shabby by comparison. The thinking is that if Apple’s service eclipses those of its rivals, it will prompt Amazon and Google to pay the labels’ licensing rates.”

If Apple can wrap things up with Universal and Sony in the next week or two, that would give it the opportunity to launch its cloud-based music service at its Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco starting June 6 – providing all the other aspects of the service are in place, of course.

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