CNET reports that Apple has already signed a cloud-music licensing agreement with EMI Music and is close to closing deals with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, according to music industry sources.
In addition to these labels, Apple already has a cloud music deal with Warner Music Group in place.
Cloud-music services allow users to store their music in servers online, instead of just on devices, so that it can be accessed from any gadget with Internet access.
Competitors Amazon and Google have already introduced unlicensed cloud-music services to the public, a move that has had some music industry executives grumbling. Apple's deals would make them the first to launch a licensed cloud-music service.
Though Apple's offering would not be the first cloud-music service on the market, Apple's licensing agreements would give it the power to possess features that Amazon and Google cannot. CNET described one possibility:
One example is that instead of requiring users to spend hours uploading their songs to the company's servers, as Google and Amazon do, Apple could just scan a user's hard drives to see what songs they own and then provide them almost-instant streaming access to master recordings. The process is sometimes referred to as "scan and match." The music service Lala, which Apple acquired in December 2009, made this process famous.
Sources did not know when Apple would announce the service, though CNET speculated that Apple might close deals with all four of the major record labels by June 6, when Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference begins. A recent report claimed that Apple had purchased the domain name iCloud.com, in preparation for this service.