Apple is reportedly pressuring the major labels to have all of the music licenses in place for the re-launch of their MobileMe service in April. This would allow users to store their music online and access it from any mobile device.
Last month, Apple confirmed that their new $1 billion data center in Maiden, NC, is expected to open this spring.
Since it will be used to support iTunes and MobileMe, the prior reports that said we could expect music in the cloud available as early as June appear to be true.
Wayne Rosso at The Music Void reports that Apple has sealed its deal with Warner Music Group and is using it as leverage to get the others onboard.
UMG and EMI are more and less pushovers in the deal according to Rosso's sources, but "Apple may actually get some pushback from Sony," he says.
However, most record executives aren't willing to push back against with Apple, as they don't want to tampler in any way with about 70% of their digital revenue.
"The reality is that, no matter what Jon Bon Jovi says, the record industry is Steve Jobs' bitch," Rosso writes. "Jobs knows it and so does everyone else."
If Apple launches their cloud music service in April, it may cost $20 annually.
Expect the labels to clear the way for a Google service soon thereafter. That way, Apple won't gain another lead. This early launch places pressure on Slacker to get their on-demand service to market and for Spotify to finalize their US deals.
It looks like the race to the cloud is underway, and guess who wants to win.