It’s coming down to the wire: will Apple(s AAPL) have the necessary rights in place by next week in order to launch its planned streaming music service at WWDC? According to various leaks from music publishers over the last couple of days, it appears Apple’s plan is coming together.
The New York Times says that Apple is close to having all the major music labels on board for recorded music rights, but there are two who still have not signed on completely:
Apple has signed a deal with the Universal Music Group for its recorded music rights, but not for music publishing — the part of the business that deals with songwriting. Over the weekend, Apple also signed a deal with the Warner Music Group for both rights. It is still in talks with Sony Music Entertainment and Sony’s separate publishing arm, Sony/ATV.
The WWDC keynote starts at 10 a.m. PT Monday, so Apple has about five days to get all the necessary deals in place so it can announce a full library of streaming music that potential users would expect. Apple has been in these situations before — most notably with ebook publishers right before the launch of the iPad — and Eddy Cue, SVP of Internet Services, has come through.
Details about what Apple is building — a streaming, radio-like service to augment its paid download iTunes service — have been leaking out since late last year. But one of the major aspects is still uncertain: pricing.
Bloomberg Businessweek‘s latest report indicates the business will be ad-supported. That could indicate that there won’t be any membership fees, such as those Google(s GOOG) is charging ($9.99 per month) for its Google Play Music All Access service. Apple’s iRadio ads will reportedly be served via iAd, the service that was originally launched to place ads in iOS apps. That business apparently isn’t doing so hot, so it will shift focus on placing ads from large brands in a user’s iRadio music stream.
But most significantly: even if the service is announced on Monday, it’s probably not going to be ready to use until the fall. Bloomberg’s sources said the music service will debut at the same time as iOS 7, which will likely be introduced sometime in September, as iOS 6 was in 2012. So no matter what, Google’s streaming music service looks like it will hit iOS before Apple’s does.