Monday 1 October 2012, 11:18 | By

Did Sony/ATV scupper iStream?

Business News Digital Labels & Publishers

Apple

Apple does have ambitions to launch its own streaming music service, or so says the New York Post, but its plans were scuppered by what is now the giant of the music publishing space, Sony/ATV/EMI. Though the paper admits none of the record labels had signed up to the proposed iTunes add-on either.

As previously reported, rumours of an iTunes streaming service circulated before the last big Apple product launch event last month. And while such a service has been mooted countless times over the last few years, the latest chatter caused the share price of publicly listed US-based streaming music company Pandora to wobble. But in the end no streaming service was announced amidst the latest iTunes updates.

According to the Post, Apple’s proposed streaming music service wouldn’t compete head on with either the Pandora ‘interactive radio’ business model or the Spotify ‘all music fully on demand’ system, and would be more closely linked to the sale of downloads through the iTunes store.

With that in mind, it was seemingly looking for more favourable rates, and was therefore talking to the rights owners direct, rather than the publishing sector’s American collecting societies (BMI and ASCAP) and SoundExchange, the body which represents sound record rights holders in the online radio space, and which also licenses services like Pandora.

But, says the Post, Sony/ATV, the biggest music publisher since it gained control of EMI Music Publishing earlier this year, wouldn’t agree to the rates being offered to the song owners, making the proposed streaming venture unviable.

Other players in the streaming music space might likewise face some tough bargaining with Sony/ATV if, as the Post also reports, the uber-publisher chooses to withdraw its digital rights in the US from the collective licensing system, and to licence all streaming platforms directly.

In the main, the music publishing sector has so far chosen to licence its so called performing rights to digital services via the likes of BMI and ASCAP, whereas the record labels have generally chosen to licence anything more interactive than Pandora directly. Though there have been exceptions – Sony/ATV’s recent acquisition EMI withdrew the performing rights from one of its catalogues in the digital space last year. Though if Sony/ATV/EMI was to make that move with its entire catalogue, that would result in quite a shift in the digital licensing domain.

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