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Is Apple Prepping To Offer Streaming Radio?
Is Apple Prepping To Offer Streaming Radio?

By Barry Levine
April 6, 2013 9:50AM

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Streaming services are growing in popularity, and there are reports that Google also plans one that is allied with YouTube. The recent Apple radio rumors are only the latest in a stream of rumors that extend back years. In 2009, for instance, Apple bought the Lala music service, which, for a time, pumped up the rumors of an Apple service. Apple later shut down Lala.

Why should Pandora get all the glory? According to news reports, Apple is prepping its own music subscription service. The reports indicate that the technology giant is getting close to a deal with at least two of the major music labels. The financial arrangements, according to unnamed sources, are better for the labels than their deals with popular music streaming site Pandora.

The per stream rate is apparently significantly less in the Apple scenario, but Apple is reported to be throwing in other forms of revenue -- including a direct way for listeners to purchase the song they're hearing, and a cut for the labels of the audio-based ads.

Some reports indicate that the actual percentage to be paid to the labels from the new ads is still being negotiated, with the labels requiring a generous cut in exchange for a lesser-than-Pandora portion of revenue from the streams. The new service will, of course, be closely tied into Apple's iTunes, an advantage that Pandora can't match.

This Summer?

The labels that Apple is reportedly close to signing are Warner Music and Universal Music Group, and the deals could be concluded within the next week. Neither Warner nor Universal have commented on the reports. Sony Music Group will also need to come aboard, at the very least, as will the major music publishers.

Reportedly, Apple plans to roll out the service this summer, beginning with the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Australia and Japan. Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, or WWDC, generally takes place in June.

The Apple service is being compared to Pandora's because it does not offer on-demand playing of clips, as do Spotify or Rdio. Apple will also add some features, such as jumping to the beginning of a song, but there is no word yet as to whether one can automatically generate personal stations based around the musical characteristics of a single song, artist or genre, as Pandora offers.

Latest in a Stream

Streaming services are growing in popularity, and there are reports that Google also plans one that is allied with YouTube. The recent Apple/radio rumors are only the latest in a stream of rumors that extend back years. In 2009, for instance, Apple bought the Lala music service, which, for a time, pumped up the rumors of an Apple service. Apple later shut down Lala.

The current streaming service on iTunes offers Internet radio stations from third parties, does not originate with the technology giant or offer tie-ins to iTunes, and has no save or record functions.

A few weeks ago, there were reports that Apple was meeting with music producer Jimmy Iovine and his Beat Electronics team, known for its headphones, about a new kind of streaming music service called Project Daisy. Iovine is said to have met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and iTunes head Eddy Cue in February, but primarily to exchange information rather than negotiate a deal.

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