Apple signs deal with Universal, iCloud to cost $25/year after free trial?

CNET reports that Universal Music Group has finalized a deal for Apple to offer streaming music through their new iCloud service. Apple will announce iCloud at WWDC next week, which will reportedly cost just $25 per year after an initial free trial period.

the service initially will be offered for a free period to people who buy music from Apple's iTunes digital download store, allowing users to upload their music to Apple's computers where they can then play from a Web browser or Internet-connected Apple device.

The company plans to eventually charge a subscription fee, about $25 a year, for the service. Apple would also sell advertising around its iCloud service.

Music publishers are set to complete deals with Apple by tomorrow, which is the final negotiations needed before the service goes live. According to The LA Times, Apple will be sharing 70% of subscription costs with the record labels, with 12% going to music publishers. Apple will walk away with the remaining 18% to pay for supporting and maintaining the service.

An additional note is that Apple may use iCloud to eventually stream movies, TV shows and more further down the road.

though the service is initially focused on allowing consumers to store their music on Apple's servers, the Cupertino, Calif., technology company ultimately envisions the service to be used for movies, TV shows and other digital content sold through iTunes, said a person knowledgeable of the company's plans.

So who's ready for some iCloud action? And do you think $25/year is a solid price-point to get users onboard? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

[CNET, LA Times]

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Andrew Wray

Andrew Wray is a Salt Lake City, Utah based writer who focuses on news, how-tos, and jailbreak. Andrew also enjoys running, spending time with his daughter, and jamming out on his guitar. He works in a management position for Unisys Technical Services, a subsidiary of Unisys Corporation.

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Reader comments

Apple signs deal with Universal, iCloud to cost $25/year after free trial?


i'm with you. i'm not paying a cent for what i can store locally. plus i don't buy music from itunes.

agreed. I had thousands of cds before the napster days. And since i've never bought from itunes. But i hav a large collection. i calulated the price and it was, at 99 cents a song, over 21 thousand dollers to replace. Plus i have plenty of stuff not available in itunes.

honest question...if you don't have unlimited data, how appealing will this end up being? i don't stream a lot of media, so i really don't know what to expect regarding data usage with this.

@Doug- you're obviously the only one posting who has a clue about what the limitation of this is. The price definintely isn't and neither is storage. It's all about bandwidth and data charges. unlimited iCloud without unlimited mobile data = useless.

Exactly; if this is how it's going to be (we'll find out next week), then this is the limitation that puts me off getting this service. Even if the sound quality is really compressed and lossy (which I could see happening), I imagine it'd be pretty easy to lose track of how much data you've used, and end up burning thru all your monthly allotted data before you know it. Plus I don't own enough music to have much need for it anyway.

well the price is to me. i'd rather just pay for the price of local storage once rather then over several years as a fee. Everybody is in my pocket for money, xbox, hulu, netflix, etc. it's crazy.
but yes bandwith is an issue. i mean the data charges would be crazy if you are streaming stuff all day.

Getting the iphone with the smallest storage capacity and then just paying $25 for a year or two isn't so bad if you think about it.
Saves you money in the long run if you upgrade about 2-3 years after the purchase. Although its just a $50-75 savings its not bad.
And whatever storage you have can go towards apps.
We'll have to see

Steve is going to have to create one hell of a Reality Distortion Field for me to accept this unless I'm missing something. I pay Apple $25 to store my music in the cloud even though I have it both in my iTunes and on my iPhone. Where's the benefit again?
Samyuel's point is well taken. There's savings if you're going to buy a new iPhone. But if you've had a iPhone 4 for a year and don't intend to upgrade until they go LTE then what's the point?

I've got 60,000 extra songs that won't fit on my iPhone so it would be awesome if I had access to all my tunes! The sticking point for me has always been pricing -- if it really is only $25 a year, I'll be the first one to jump on board!

Am I missing something? search zumodrive in the app app and streams unlimited amount of music/videos/pics from your hard drive.

the problem with zumodrive is that you have to have a computer constantly running back at home. not everyone wants to do that and i am unsure if most home internet connection will have similar upstream performance as apple's servers.

It will be an insane profit for them at $25. That's ~$2/mo. People will blink at that.
Now just what the service provides for that dough is the key.

$25 a year is nothing for what it sounds like unlimited storage... unless youre a total cheapass, who wouldnt sign up? the question is, what about the non-itunes bought songs? can we still use icloud for them?

For sure i'm going to use it, right now the music streaming services like Spotify is 10€/month, and it's missing a lot of music, soo!!
Also i really want TV Series and Movies, even if i have to pay a higher anual subscritption, but i dnt like, the buy/rent thing

Because you can't fit your 120GB library of music on your 16/32GB ipod/ipad/iphone... Duh!
This way your music is with you wherever you go.
I read Apple would not upload your library of music to their servers but rather check that if your songs are 'in the cloud' already you'd stream it from there. Kind of like a worldwide cloud for everyone to share the same content, except you only have access to what is in your 'local' library.
Not sure, I may be wrong.

Am I missing something? search zumodrive in the app store…free app and streams unlimited amount of music/videos/pics from your hard drive.

the problem with zumodrive is that you have to have a computer constantly running back at home. not everyone wants to do that and i am unsure if most home internet connection will have similar upstream performance as apple’s servers.

Streaming as I understand it would only work with Internet access. I often listen to my iPod in the car or in trains. Would be an awful experience. And tricky synching of that 160GB music database will also be a frustrating mess. Sorry, I do not see this fly for the least not for music.

Obviously streaming would require Internet access, but this wouldn't get rid of your ability to still have local music on your device! I often listen to streaming music (Pandora, PocketTunes & Stitcher) while driving around and they all work great! And if 3G isn't available, I listen to my local music.
Also, let's not forget Wi-Fi -- there's lots of places, such as work, where I'd love to get access to all my music!
I doubt that syncing will be a frustrating mess? Remember -- it's not like you are going to have to upload all your music! It would probably simply detect that you've got an album, and make that available to you on iCloud. So, syncing to the cloud would probably be pretty efficient just trading database info and not actual tracks.

Does anyone think that they will be decreasing the size on the onboard hard drive on the next iPhone? Two reasons they would do this...
1) Make it even THINNER then it already is
2) Make people buy the iCloud service
Anyone else think this might be a reality?

Doubtful because unless something else is announced, the biggest drawback to iCloud is smartphone data usage. I get 4GB/month with AT&T now ($10/GB after) and while that amounts to a bunch of music streaming, I could understand how many people would easily use that up quickly.

I hope it's not the case, but remember that FaceTime is still only supported on WiFi, so there is a chance that they may not offer this over 3G which would suck! And then, with an LTE device, allow those Wi-Fi only apps to work over the cellular network.
It will be interesting to hear the details in Monday!

Except you can tether your iPad to your iPhone's Personal Hotspot which lets you FaceTime from anywhere. If iCloud only works over WiFi, then what's the point?

Has any realised streaming especially over 3G is a battery hog? I don't see the point?

Have you realized just how popular apps like Pandora and Slacker are? I think people are willing to sacrifice a bit.

What about music that hasn's been purchased through the iTunes store? I have a lot of music ripped from CDs, sounds suspiciously like I won't be upload any of it.

That is a good point, that seems to be getting missed by many. I wonder how many of the thousands of songs people are claiming to have, that don't fit on their phones were purchased through iTunes.
If it only gives you access to music purchased through iTunes, which matches with what has been reported around the web, it is really of limited use compared to many other services offered by competitors. This is even ignoring the data usage portion, which would indicate the streams will definitely be lossy, and compressed pretty heavily, or users would chew through their data allotment in just a few days.
It will be interesting to get some official information from horse mouth at WWDC, then we can truly determine the worth of this offering.

Rumor is you'll be authorized to play it regardless if where you got it. Kind of pointless if it's only for iTunes purchased songs. In order for iCloud to succeed they need everyone hitting it and psyched to use it and easy to use or they won't be selling advertising there which is where the real dollars are.
Apple is going to make music super easy so we are all locked into their service so we continue to

I'm all for it. I hope that mobile me will be integrated somehow or at least discounted if you have both MM and iCloud.

$25/year is not bad at all especially because my PC crashes at least once every few years and I don't trust my external Hard Drive 100%.

Sounds like it might be a better deal than £9.99 per month to Spotify and if the service was to include the services of MobileMe then you can certainly count me in for $25 per let waits and hear what iCloud is going to give us tomorrow?