Report: Apple, Universal streaming music deal imminent, Sony talks lag

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to complete a streaming music licensing agreement with Universal Music Group as soon as next week, The Verge reports.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the talks say Apple and Universal have reached the final stages of negotiations to offer Universal's digital catalog via the so-called "iRadio" streaming service. Insiders say Apple is additionally closing in on a deal with Warner Music, but talks with the third major label, Sony Music Entertainment, are said to lag behind. Negotiations with Sony/ATV, the music publishing company jointly run with the estate of late pop singer Michael Jackson, have also slowed.

Spokespeople for all three record labels declined to comment. An Apple spokesperson said the company does not comment on rumors and speculation.

Sources say iRadio will closely evoke Pandora in terms of functionality, eschewing on-demand listening in favor of programming content based on users' favorite artists, songs and genres. Apple also will add unique features like the ability to jump back to the beginning of a track. Like Pandora, Apple will offer the service via multiple mobile operating systems as well as the desktop.

Last month, The New York Post reported Apple initially offered to pay labels about 6 cents for every 100 songs iRadio streams, about half the 12 cents per 100 songs paid by Pandora. The Verge reports Apple has since agreed to pay rates close to "neck and neck" with Pandora, in exchange for offering more on-demand capabilities than the Pandora service.  This week Pandora reported topping 200 million users including 140 million on mobile.

Rumors of Apple's impending entrance into the streaming music segment have swirled for months. The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times first reported on an Apple streaming radio service last fall--last month, Reuters reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook and Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue had met with Beats Electronics CEO and co-founder Jimmy Iovine to explore a potential partnership involving the audio technology firm's forthcoming Daisy streaming service. Rivals Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) are reportedly exploring streaming music efforts as well.

For more:
- read this Verge article

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