APPLE COULD TRANSFORM DIGITAL MUSIC

The deal that Apple is currently discussing about will totally revolutionise the digital music industry. Moving music to the cloud has been an elusive goal for big tech companies and their music industry counterparts, until now. In the past two months, Amazon and Google (GOOG) have unveiled cloud music services, albeit to mixed reviews and indifference from consumers. These new services let users upload their music collections into so-called digital lockers on the Internet and stream the songs they own to a variety of devices. Both are limited, because neither Google nor Amazon could reach an accommodation with music labels. Label executives say they are negotiating aggressively to make sure they profit from the shift to the cloud. It may be the last opportunity to stem rampant piracy and years of plummeting sales.

Apple (AAPL), the reigning heavyweight of the music business, may have solved this cloud conundrum. It has reached agreements with three of the four major music labels and is close to reaching terms with the fourth, Universal Music, according to people with knowledge of these deals but who can't speak on the record because the talks are private. The company could preview its cloud plans as early as June at Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. The music industry will be watching to see whether Steve Jobs & Co. have discovered a way to quell the deep anxieties of the music biz while creating a flexible, easy-to-use service that isn't too expensive.

Rihanna
Britney Spears
Ash Tisdale

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