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Labels playing the Apple card to force Amazon, Google into licensing deals?

In a ‘told you so’ moment, record labels are turning their attention to Apple and the June 6 developer conference for a music-related announcement. As reported by Greg Sandoval of CNET, music executives hope that an Apple-branded service will legitimize cloud lockers that are popping up everywhere. The labels hope to leverage the Apple locker against Amazon and Google which both launched their respective cloud offerings on a free of charge basis. Apple’s cloud storage for music is rumored to carry a $20 a year price tag. Apple apparently cut a licensing deal with at least one major music publisher, Warner Music.

The hope in the music industry is that Apple’s music service will make the competing offerings look shabby by comparison and force Amazon and Google to pay the licensing rates the labels are asking.

The report goes on to note that Google could be in trouble with the labels over transcoding music files at upload, which could be viewed by some as creating a new copy without a permission of content owners. Apple is thought to be developing a new suite of online services under the iCloud moniker. However, this could as well be a new name for the existing $99 a year MobileMe online suite. Apple has registered the domain name so it’s a safe bet they’ll be using it at some point down the road.


Although Amazon and Google have beaten Apple to the cloud locker punch, both companies have apparently angered music executives by launching without licenses and the go-ahead from labels. As you know, the music industry feels it’s entitled to royalties for any cloud storage solution that happens to store users’ music files for backup and streaming purposes. The Amazon Cloud Player (which now works on iOS gadgets as well) launched on March 28 with 5GB of free storage for music, photos, videos, documents and other file types. Users who buy some music on Amazon get another 15GB free of charge. Music Beta by Google debuted yesterday as a free service “while in beta”, indicating plans to charge its users once Google removes the beta label. It lets you store up to 20,000 songs up in the cloud for later streaming or offline listening via the web and Android devices and is available to US residents only.

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