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Thursday, April 21, 2011, 10:10 pm PT (01:10 am ET)

Apple reportedly signs licenses with major music labels for iTunes streaming

A new report claims that Apple has succeeded in procuring deals with at least two of the four big music labels in the last two months, possibly signaling that the rumored iTunes streaming music service is imminent.

Peter Kafka of All Things Digital reported Thursday that Apple is "actively seeking licenses" for a new cloud-based music locker service and is willing to pay labels for the privilege.

According to Kafka's sources, Apple has inked deals with two of the for major labels, which include Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony and EMI within the last two months. One source claimed Apple VP Eddy Cue will be in New York on Friday in an attempt to solidify remaining deals.

"They’ve been very aggressive and thoughtful about it,” Kafka reported an industry executive as saying. “It feels like they want to go pretty soon.”

Kafka's sources have yet to see the service for themselves, but say they're aware of the "broad strokes." "The idea is that Apple will let users store songs they’ve purchased from its iTunes store, as well as others songs stored on their hard drives, and listen to them on multiple devices," Kafka wrote in his report.

The report comes on the heels of a Reuters report earlier Thursday that claimed Apple had "completed work" on a cloud-based iTunes music streaming service. Citing anonymous sources, the report said Apple is "set to launch" the service, which would store users' songs on a remote server and allow them to access them from "wherever they have an Internet connection."

However, the Reuters report claimed that Apple had yet to arrive at new licensing agreements with the labels.

Rival Amazon launched a digital music locker last month without new licensing approval. The online retailer has reportedly faced a backlash from the music industry as a result.

According to Kafka, Apple would be able to create a more "robust service" than Amazon with re-negotiated licenses. That service could include "better user interfaces, sound quality, and other features," said Kafka.

For example, Kafka has heard that Apple's new deals with the labels would allow the company to "store a single master copy of a song on its servers and share it with multiple users."

Apple's upcoming music streaming service could come in the form of an enhanced version of MobileMe. In February, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple plans to revamp its MobileMe offerings by adding a free 'locker' service for storing photos, music and videos.

In 2009, Apple bought streaming music service Lala for $85 million, prompting speculation that iTunes streaming was in the works. However, Apple shuttered Lala last year and the rumored service has yet to materialize.

Google is also planning a similar service, but has reportedly gotten bogged down in negotiations. According to Reuters, the company has repeatedly changed its mind during talks with labels, bringing talks to a standstill.

"They keep changing what they're asking for," said a label executive. Sources claim Google had originally planned an 'iTunes-like store,' but had been begun exploring licensing for a subscription service in recent weeks.