Will it really be called “iRadio”? and other questions about Apple’s new music service

radio waves

It looks like Apple is ready to announce a new music service on Monday. The latest report from the behind-the-scenes negotiations says Apple and a third major music label have come to an agreement on recorded music licensing: AllThingsD says Apple has gotten Sony Music on board with its plan for its streaming iRadio music service.

Universal Music and Warner Music are already reportedly on board. The one remaining issue is Apple getting Sony/ATV, which is Sony’s music publishing arm, to sign on as well. But ATD’s report notes that “the gaps between Sony/ATV and Apple were supposedly smaller than the ones Sony Music and Apple were looking at a few days ago.”

At this point, a Monday announcement at WWDC seems very likely.

The key questions remaining:

  • Will it all be free? It’s said to be ad-supported. But will there be a premium version without ads?
  • When will it actually open go online? The word is that it will be introduced next week, but not launch until iOS 7 goes live, likely in the fall.
  • How will it connect with iTunes? If it’s a free music discovery service, Apple’s going to want to push people to buy the stuff they like.
  • Will it actually be called “iRadio”?

Apple is certainly a bit late in launching a streaming music service. But then again, that’s the company’s general m.o.: it’s never first to jump on tech trends to appeal to the tech-savvy. Apple typically hangs back and jumps in with a super simple product that your mom can easily figure out (iCloud excepted). To compete with what’s already out there — Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, etc. — Apple’s going to have to offer something that’s super convenient — integrated with services or devices their customers are already using — or a better value.

We’ll be live-blogging Apple’s keynote at 10 a.m. PT on Monday, be sure to come back to GigaOM to get the up-to-the-minute details on the new music service and everything else Apple reveals.

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