Apple iRadio Almost Ready
June 3, 2013

Could Apple’s iRadio Launch Next Week?

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

They missed their opportunity to launch during the Grammy´s, but according to a pair of reports from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, Apple could be preparing for an iRadio launch during next week´s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

Rumors of a Pandora-like streaming radio service began last year before their autumn iPad and iPhone announcements. Though Apple has yet to officially address plans about their new radio offering, news sources have been claiming that the Cupertino company has been struggling to sign deals with music publishers like Sony and Warner. Yesterday, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple has finally signed a deal with Warner Music Group in a rights and publishing deal which brings them closer to launching their streaming music offering.

Yesterday´s New York Times report also adds some information to the rumored radio service which had previously been unclear. It has long been thought that iRadio would be linked to iTunes, allowing users to buy the songs they hear instantly and seamlessly — an obvious boon for artists and their publishers alike. According to inside sources who spoke with the Times, Apple´s radio will also be a free service supported by advertising.

Both the Times and the Journal report that Apple signed a licensing deal with Warner Music Group on Sunday that will give Apple rights to their recorded and published music. This publishing deal has apparently been a sticking point during the negotiations. To obtain these publishing rights, Apple agreed to give Warner 10 percent of their ad revenue — twice the amount Pandora currently gives the same publishers.

The Journal also claims Apple has been fighting with the record labels over three central issues: royalty rates, minimum guarantees and at which point Apple will begin splitting their revenues with the publishers.

Stories emerged earlier this year that Apple had been asking to pay much less for royalty rights than other companies like Spotify or Pandora. Apple was said to be aiming to pay just six cents for every 10 songs streamed through the service. By comparison, Pandora reportedly pays 12 cents for the same rights, while iRadio pays 22 cents and Spotify 35 cents.

The Journal reports that these negations became mired over details guaranteeing minimum fees for the publishers if Apple decides to launch the service without ads for the first several months. The iPhone maker is also expected to wait until they reach a certain scale before they start splitting their revenue with publishers.

Apple had also reportedly been at odds with Sony over the rights to stream their popular artists like Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift. Though the company could be preparing to unveil their new web radio service as early as next week, the Journal insists Apple is having trouble sealing the deal with Sony Music Entertainment and their separate publishing company, Sony/ATV. Though they´re still apparently waiting to sign the final deals, it´s likely Apple already has the service built and ready to go. If this is the case, it should be relatively easy to flip the switches and have it launched and ready to go by next week.