UPDATED 11:13 EDT / JUNE 03 2011

Apple’s iCloud Signs All Four Major Record Labels, Cost Listed at $25 a Year

apple-icloud-drive Right now, Apple’s upcoming cloud-storage service for iTunes has been all the rage of speculation and interest and more details are coming to light. So far, it’s been revealed that the technology magnificence and strategy of iCloud has been adopted by the four major record labels: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and EMI Group.

According to the L.A. Times article that unwraps this juicy information, the record labels certainly thirst for their pint of blood alongside their share of the profits,

The agreements, finalized this week, call for Apple to share 70% of any revenue from iCloud’s music service with record labels, as well as 12% with music publishers holding the songwriting rights. Apple is expected to keep the remaining 18%, said people knowledgeable with the terms…

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.

I think we all read that right: 70% of the revenue shared with the music labels. While the service is planned to be free for the first year, after that it will probably run about $25/yr. No news yet on how much total storage will be available per-customer or if there will be a tiered support for different prices. At $25/yr that’s less than $2.10/mo an extremely reasonable price for a music-anywhere service.

The L.A. Times article doesn’t lay anything to rest about if Apple iCloud will open itself up to being a more generalized cloud-based storage service—and thus open up Apple’s into-the-living-room technology strategy—but it did mention thoughts that it will be more than just music.

According to sources across the Internet, it looks like iCloud will use an mp3 recognition technology that will identify music on participants hard drives and in their iTunes and match it up to maximum quality music already stored on the cloud servers. This means that Apple won’t be storing the actual music sitting on the customer’s drive, but their own copy. Thus allaying the necessity to store a myriad of different tunes with different bitrates and quality (and lengths) and meaning that a lifetime of potentially pirated or bad CD rips of music won’t be floating around, cluttering up the cloud.

What Apple will do with independent music, Creative Commons music, or other sources is still up in the air. At that point, Apple is probably better off just side-loading the user’s music onto their cloud servers anyway. Chances are the only way for a music producer to get onto this gravy train is to have their music in the iCloud so that it can be recognized.

Can we say: a music publishing and distribution service akin to self-publishing on the Kindle?

This move is obviously designed to counteract the already powerful services planned and published by other Internet storage giants like Google and Amazon. We’ll be watching this tripartite market as it grows and blossoms into some healthy competition between Google’s upcoming music-cloud service and Amazon’s Cloud Drive. Both competitors have obvious designs on the personal cloud.

Although it’s hard to say exactly where Apple is going, it’s easy to see that Apple will first tackle a personal media cloud.

Still, it’s a stepping stone towards a fully viable implementation of a personal cloud strategy for Apple to join the rest of the Internet in the cloud age.

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