Apple iRadio OK'd by Sony, service to compete with Pandora
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Apple Inc. signed an agreement with Sony Music Entertainment, the final record-company holdout needed for the iPhone maker's planned online radio service, said people with knowledge of the situation.
Sony signed its agreement late Thursday, and Apple plans to announce the service, unofficially dubbed iRadio, at a conference on June 10, said the people, who requested anonymity because the talks are private. Vivendi SA's Universal Music and Len Blavatnik's Warner Music Group have already signed agreements with Apple, people with knowledge of the situation said this month.
With the record companies on board, Apple plans to announce an advertising-supported service that will compete with Pandora Media Inc. for listeners. IRadio will allow users to build custom stations based on an artist or genre that draws on music from the company's iTunes library.
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Apple's agreement with Sony Music was reported Friday by AllThingsD. Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a joint venture of Sony Corp. and the estate of Michael Jackson, hadn't reached a deal with Apple as of earlier this week, the website said.
FREE AD-SUPPORTED MUSIC
The radio service will be free to customers and supported by ads, people with knowledge of the offering said earlier this month. By integrating the service with iTunes, users will be able to buy and download songs that are played, they said.
Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president in charge of the effort, has retooled the company's iAd mobile-advertising unit to focus on selling audio ads and attracting large brands to the service, people familiar with the plans have said. The advertising revenue will be shared with the music companies.
Apple has pitched the service to music companies as a tool for boosting downloads of songs through iTunes. As more people listen to music for free through services such as Pandora and Google Inc.'s YouTube, Apple sees the service as a way to turn people on to new music. Services such as Spotify Ltd. and Rdio Inc., which charge a monthly fee for unlimited access to their song libraries, also have gained traction.
Apple remains the world's biggest music retailer, representing 63 percent of the download market, according to estimates from NPD Group Inc.