A few months back, Bloomberg reported that Apple was in serious talks with a number or major record labels in an effort to secure licensing deals for a music streaming service similar to Pandora. The initial report relayed that Apple was hoping to launch the service - which would be supported by advertising - by early 2013. After all, if Apple was able to provide a comparable music experience to Pandora, it would provide yet another avenue for consumers to purchase music via the iTunes Store.
The only problem is that the licensing deals required for streaming are entirely different from those required for online sales. Consequently, negotiating mutually beneficial licensing deals with a bevy of record labels is no small task. Indeed, CNET this past December relayed via a number of inside sources in the music industry that Apple was nowhere close to securing deals that would get its streaming music service off the ground. Specifically, the report noted that Apple's offer to some of the major record labels, including Sony and Universal Music, wasn't warmly received.
at a minimum, a deal with all the majors is nowhere near to being completed. Even if Apple sweetens its offer or the big labels change their mind tomorrow, these deals take a while to put to bed. Even in the best case scenario, it will still be a while before we see iRadio.
And with that as a backdrop, BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield is anticipating that Apple's rumored streaming music service will debut in 2013.
"Consumer behavior (is) increasingly shifting toward access to a music catalog from ownership of specific songs," Greenfield wrote. "We expect iRadio to be incorporated into the iTunes iOS app with personalized radio functionality akin to Pandora, integrated with iTunes to purchase music and other music related content such as concert information/tickets/merchandise via Live Nation and Ticketmaster."
I mean, that all sounds great, but remember that these don't happen in a vacuum. Negotiating with record labels is notoriously tough, and when you factor in the labels' apprehension about getting into bed with Apple to begin with, this is one rumor that we should take with a grain of salt until more substantive reports emerge.