Why Apple is still struggling to strike a deal with record labels over its rumored iRadio service

Rumors of Apple's iRadio service have persisted for quite some time. With WWDC steadily approaching - and slated to begin in June - all eyes will be on Apple to see what type of new music service, if any, it will have to preview.

Rumors of Apple's iRadio service have persisted for quite some time. With WWDC steadily approaching - and slated to begin in June - all eyes will be on Apple to see what type of new music service, if any, it will have to preview.

A few weeks ago we reported that Apple was still in negotiations with the four largest U.S. music labels to secure licensing agreements. To date, Apple has reportedly only struck a deal with Universal Music Group. By way of contrast, Google debuted a new music service of its own, a Spotify competitor of sorts, at its I/O conference this week.

So what gives?

How was Google able to sign music licensing agreements with the big four and roll out a new music service while Apple is still struggling, it would appear, to cement its own deal?

Well, as is typically the case, the answer lies in the details.

You see, while Google signed a straight up licensing agreement with the labels, the service Apple has in mind is a hybrid music service that will offer music recommendations while also offering other features that Pandora currently doesn't offer, such as the ability to replay a recommended song.

The Verge reports:

For starters, Google chose to offer a standard subscription music service very similar to those built by Spotify and Rdio, and that meant the terms had largely been established, according to multiple sources close to the talks. Apple, on the other hand, is pioneering a hybrid web and radio service — one that resembles Pandora but melds it with some on-demand features, the sources said. The licensing agreement had to be created from scratch.

Further, Apple's famed intransigence is reportedly rearing its ugly head yet again.

The Verge notes that Apple, in contrast to Google, has balked at record label demands for up-front money advances. Consequently, two of the big four record labels - Sony and BMG Rights Management - aren't willing to hop into bed with Apple just yet. The Verge points out that an on-demand music service a'la Spotify is much more lucrative for record labels when compared to something like Pandora, which is exclusively ad-supported.

Apple, of course, has never been a fan of subscription services. Steve Jobs, for instance, said time and time again that folks want to own their music. I'm not sure if that's entirely true anymore, but the reality is that Apple would rather funnel users from its rumored iRadio service into iTunes and have folks actually purchase tracks.

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