Cupertino now has three out of the four big music labels signed, but even so, could Apple’s iCloud music locker and streaming service be delayed even later than its rumored WWDC launch? The music business is a tricky one, and although Apple’s got most of the labels signed, the negotiations with publishers are still in their early stages.
Over at All Things Digital, Peter Kafka explains the separation between music labels and publishers: publishers are paid for compositions, while labels are paid for the actual recordings of those compositions.
While Apple came to terms with Warner Music and EMI Music weeks ago, and has now struck a deal with Sony Music, industry sources tell me the company doesn’t have agreements with labels’ associated publishing companies — Warner/Chappell, EMI Music Publishing and Sony/ATV. The deal Apple is about to sign with Universal, also won’t include publishing, I’m told.
Music industry sources I talk to think Apple wants to launch, or at least announce, the cloud service at its developers’ conference in early June. And if the hang-up is truly just about money, then that still gives dealmakers time to hammer things out. But remember that this is the music business, and simple things always take longer than they should.
Basically, if Apple wants to launch its cloud service as anything besides a storage locker, a la Google Music or Amazon Cloud Locker, they need to get deals inked with both the publishers and labels to migrate your songs to the cloud… and while the labels are on board, the publishers at the same companies have yet to do the same.
If Apple gets all the labels on board, the publishers will likely come pretty soon… but with time running out before WWDC, and the music labels twitchy and hard to pin down, it’s possible that no matter how much Apple hustles, they might not get it done in time. If so, when WWDC comes around, Apple’s music locker section of iCloud could potentially debut a little half-baked… or not at all.