As is often the case when fall approaches and an Apple event draws near, rumors have begun to swirl about Apple starting a Pandora-style streaming/subscription music service. Even though Apple has resolutely stuck to iTunes purchases for music, and added the subscription-based iTunes Match music locker service, the allure of true streaming solution is such that everyone and their journal of record seems to agree Apple is working on something like it, to launch sometime. Today Ethan Smith and Jessica E. Vascellaro of the Wall Street Journal report:
Apple only recently initiated licensing negotiations with record labels for its putative service and, even if it does complete deals, it could be a matter of months before such a service might launch, according to these people.
The company has in the past contemplated and abandoned other interactive features, including a Spotify-like service that would have let users rent unlimited amounts of music for a fixed monthly fee. But people familiar with the current talks say they appear to be more serious than those previous tentative inquiries.
Ben Sisario and Nick Wingfield of the New York Times add:
Apple’s service would probably take the form of a preinstalled app on devices like iPhones and iPads and might be able to connect to users’ iTunes accounts to judge their tastes. [...] But while most such services operate under limited licenses that restrict what they can do with the music — for example, limiting the number of times songs by particular artist can be played within an hour — Apple is seeking direct licenses with record labels that would give the company more flexibility in using music, according to the people briefed on its plans.
iAds would subsidize the service, reportedly, much as they do with Pandora already.
With Apple having explored but not pulled the trigger on streaming/subscription music offerings before, it's hard to tell just how likely they are to pull the trigger on this version, this time. Apple's had incredible success, both with Steve Jobs and Eddy Cue, in making content deals -- more than any other company on the planet. That's a mixed blessing, however, as they've faced equal and opposite push back from media companies who fear their online dominance.
Apple has the iPhone 5 event scheduled for September 12, and is rumored to be holding an iPad mini event sometime in October as well. iTunes and music will probably get some attention at one of those. It would likely take a lot of movement, and a lot of deals, to see any streaming/subscription music announcements made by then.
Of course, if they do, they'll have my money at "boom". How about you?