Apple is furiously negotiating with the record labels to finalize deals which will allow it to stream music from the Internet to mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, iPods) and computers. It just came to terms with Sony Music, according to a Bloomberg report, which means that of the four major labels it’s got three down (EMI, Warner, and Sony), and one to go (Universal Music).
Streaming rights are different than digital download rights so Apple had to renegotiate all of its music deals. A cloud music service would allow consumers to keep all of their music online and stream it to any device. Google and Amazon have both recently launched beta versions of cloud music services, but they are limited in features and functionality (watch our Fly or Die review of Google Music for more info). Both decided to push ahead with music lockers that do not require deals with the labels, and in so doing they may have pushed the labels closer to Apple.
In any event, as soon as Universal gets on board, the last major barrier to Apple launching iTunes in the cloud will be removed. The question is: will iTunes remain a buy-to-own model, or will Apple start offering unlimited subscriptions? We can dream, but let’s take baby steps first. Simply getting all your music off your various devices and keeping them in one central location online will take away most of the hassles of managing your music collection on your own machine and syncing it to various mobile devices with limited storage capacity.