Apple pushing for ‘iRadio’ licensing deals ahead of WWDC

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After months of rumors and allegedly stalled talks, Apple is now said to be making headway in licensing content for a supposed Internet radio service which is expected to debut during this year’s Worldwide Developers Conference  scheduled for next week.

Dubbed “iRadio” by Apple press, the service is expected to function much like Pandora or Spotify’s Radio feature. It’ll likely let you personalize music streams based on specific artists, as well as your current music library. There’s also word that Apple has managed to finagle lower licensing rates from music publishers by giving them a cut from other revenue streams (on top of the money publishers get from iTunes sales).

Citing people familiar with the ongoing talks, Apple inked a deal with Warner Music Group over the weekend for both recorded music and music publishing rights, adding to an existing arrangement with Universal Music Group for recorded music. The company has also scored recorded music rights from Universal, and it’s still in talks with Sony Music Entertainment and its publishing subsidiary Sony A/TV.

Apple was first rumored be working on an Internet radio service in September 2012, but has reportedly hit snags along the way as music publishers continue to demand unacceptably high royalty rates and minimum payments.

According to Monday’s report, iRadio will be mainly ad supported, much like popular Internet radio services Pandora and Spotify. It is unclear if Apple will offer a “premium” subscription tier to remove ads and boost revenue. Also in the cards is a possible tie-in with iTunes, which would offer users an easy way to purchase tracks heard on iRadio.

While iTunes dominates online music sales, Apple will be a late entrant to the Internet radio sector as even Google joined the fray with its recently released Google Play Music “All Access,” at its developer conference last month. That service offers both unlimited access to Google Play’s music library, in addition to personalized Internet radio.

WWDC 2013 is scheduled to run from June 10 through 14 at Moscone West in San Francisco.

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