Amazon executives are close to striking license deals with music studios to cover the company’s cloud music service, numerous music industry sources told CNET.
Amazon already has reached agreements with Universal Music Group, EMI and Sony Music Entertainment and is in the later stages of negotiations with the other Warner Music Group, the sources said. Amazon could announce the deals within weeks.
Spokesmen for UMG, EMI and Sony declined to comment. An Amazon representative was not immediately available for comment, though I’ll update as soon as we hear back.
Details are scarce as to what new features Amazon’s cloud music service will offer as a result of the license deals, though it’s likely that Amazon may soon be able to match many of the features found at Apple’s iCloud.
The moves comes more than a year after Amazon surprised both the music sector and its rivals, Apple and Google, by launching Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player without licenses from the top labels. Amazon became the first of the major music stores to enable users to upload their music collections into the cloud.
Amazon Cloud Drive enables users to upload copies of their music, e-books, videos, and other digital media to Amazon’s servers. The Cloud Player enables them to listen to the uploaded music with the help of Web-connected devices.
Earlier today, Amazon announced that the Cloud Player app is now available for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
While we don’t know what new features Amazon will offer, the company will likely eliminate the need for users to upload every one of their songs individually to the cloud. Because Apple obtained licenses before launching its cloud service last year, it was allowed to scan a user’s hard drive to identify the music there. The company could then match and stream songs to the user from copies stored in the iTunes’ library, eliminating the tedious uploading.
Amazon couldn’t offer a similar service because the scan-and-match process involves creating and delivering copies of music to users who didn’t technically buy them. Making a copy requires a license, say the labels; otherwise, they argue, such copies violate their copyrights.
Update: 6-13-12, 8:15 a.m. PT: To include news that Sony Music Group has also reached an a cloud-music agreement with Amazon.