When we last checked in, Amazon was thought to finally be pushing for full music rights in its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services. It might be a smooth operator at the negotiating table: subsequent tips to CNET maintain that the top four major labels (a currently-independent EMI as well as Sony, Universal and Warner) have all signed deals that will let Amazon offer the same scan-and-match music downloads and streaming as Apple’s iTunes Match. The pacts would let Amazon offer access to every song a listener owns without having to directly upload each track that wasn’t bought directly from Amazon MP3. Aside from closing a conspicuous gap, the deal could end a whole lot of acrimony from labels who were upset that Amazon preferred a free-but-limited service over having to charge anything. The online shop hasn’t said anything official yet (if at all), but any signatures on the dotted line will leave Google Music as the odd man out.
Sony’s connected Music Unlimited offering is already available online, on gaming devices, on Android phones and tablets, so nice to see it’s finally available on its, you know, Walkman music players. In what feels somewhat like an afterthought, “compatible Walkman devices” (currently just the NWZ-E465) can play your favorite channels and playlists on the move — no connection required. Only those paying the $9.99 premium, however, get to add songs from the actual Unlimited music catalogue. Plug-in at home, sync the music, and listen at your leisure offline via the dedicated app, but with so many other competing ways of enjoying your music from the cloud, on a plethora of connected devices, it really is surprising this wasn’t already possible. Still, if you own an NWZ-E465, and subscribe to the Music Unlimited, you can feel all gooey knowing Sony has your back. Hit the PR after the break for more info.
Ah, so it’s all coming together now. Following a report on Warner Music inking a cloud streaming deal with Apple, CNET is back with fresh information that sees three more major record companies jumping on board. Citing “multiple music industry sources,” we’re told that EMI is the latest addition to Apple’s cloud music portfolio, while Universal and Sony are close to sealing the deal to permit this rumored iCloud service. If true, such endorsement will no doubt add pressure on Google and Amazon over their cheeky, license-free cloud streaming offerings — not a bad way to fend off competition, though it’s not clear how much money’s involved. Guess we’ll know more at WWDC next month.
In case you missed the news, last night Amazon gave us a little surprise by launching its free Cloud Player service, which lets you stream your music collection from the cloud to your computer or Android device. While this has no doubt put a smile on many faces (American ones only, for now), Sony Music isn’t too happy about Amazon jumping the gun over licensing for streaming rights. The record label told Reuters that it’s hoping Amazon “will reach a new license deal, but we’re keeping all of our legal options open.” Yikes. In retaliation, Amazon responded with the following statement to Ars Tehcnica:
“Cloud Player is an application that lets customers manage and play their own music. It’s like any number of existing media management applications. We do not need a license to make Cloud Player available. The functionality of saving MP3s to Cloud Drive is the same as if a customer were to save their music to an external hard drive or even iTunes.”
Of course, the bigger story here is that Amazon’s free Cloud Player is going head-to-head with Sony’s Music Unlimited streaming subscription service, which was pushed out last month after plenty of money talk with various record labels. Understandably, Sony isn’t willing to let Amazon cut through the red tape here without a fight, and this may also affect similar music locker services like mSpot and MP3Tunes, albeit at a much smaller scale. In fact, Sony’s already expressed its discomfort with those particular companies’ mode of operation, so you can probably expect to see this tension boiling over to some form of legal action before long. Now that a big shot like Amazon’s involved, it’s almost inevitable.