Apple is expected to sign a cloud music deal with Universal Music Group this week, completing its quartet of key labels ahead of the official iCloud launch promised for Monday's WWDC 2011 keynote. The news follows suggestions that Apple intends not only to offer streaming audio services but cloud-based TV shows and movies, with negotiations already underway for some time.
If the Universal tip is true, it suggests Apple could be leaning somewhat on the label, given its confirmation that iCloud will be a fixture of next week's keynote. However, the sources also suggest that while Apple may be close to having the four key labels onboard with iCloud, its negotiations with music publishers - who maintain the separate rights to words and music, distinct from the actual recordings the labels control - are "less advanced."
Apple is believed to be facing a backlash of sorts by music publishers, frustrated that previous music services have treated them as afterthoughts beyond securing label support. It remains to be seen whether Apple will launch iCloud without those deals in place, or merely announce the service on Monday with commercial roll-out pegged for later in 2011.