Apple has secured rights with Warner Music Group for publishing and recorded music, according to reports from both the New York Times and the Wall Street journal. It has also recorded rights for Universal Music Group, but not for music publishing, as it makes a final push to land agreements with all three major music labels in order to launch a streaming music service in time for WWDC, which kicks off next Monday, June 10.
The news comes after earlier reports that Apple had apparently hit a snag in its negotiations over streaming music rights, which had stalled the entire process. Apple is now back at the table according to the NYT’s sources, which says it hopes to speed things up in hopes of still making the WWDC dates. Still, despite a re-opening of negotiations, if the paper’s reports are correct, Apple hasn’t made all that much progress, and still remains in talks with Sony Music and Sony/ATV, as well as Universal Music Group, for the remaining rights needed. Talks are apparently hinging on Apple’s desire to secure more extensive licensing terms for music in its library.
The labels don’t want to merely replicate the existing deals they have with companies like Pandora which result in around 4 percent licensing fees, however, according to the Times. Instead, they’d be looking for as high as 10 percent, but they are amenable to providing Apple with streaming rights since there’s greater opportunity for selling through digital downloads on the back of an iRadio service, thanks to the immediate proximity to the service of the iTunes store.
Based on previous reports, many suspect that Apple’s music service would be free and ad-supported, which would be a very different approach to that taken by Google, which recently launched its Google Play Music All Access service, a subscription-based streaming offering that works in combination with the existing Google Play Music traditional digital music sales channel. All Access will also be arriving on iOS in just a few weeks’ time, according to Google’s Android and Chrome chief Sunder Pichai, which means that if Apple can’t get deals in place, Google’s streaming music service might appear on iOS sooner than Apple’s own.
At this point, it’s very likely Apple has the technology component of its streaming service down, and all that remains is to secure a green light from labels to get it to market. That’s still a big missing piece of the puzzle, but we’ll see if WWDC prompts a last-minute resolution among the remaining holdouts.