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Apple to Launch Streaming Music this Summer

Apple, which has been aiming for a summer rollout of a streaming music service, has hit a negotiating snag with Sony Music over some of the features that it is building into its product.

More specifically, Apple and Sony Music, the world’s second-largest music label, are still trying to hammer out details over how much Apple would pay for songs that people listen to a fraction of and then skip, according to people familiar with the negotiations. There could be other points of contention as well.

Apple’s streaming music service, which most closely resembles Internet radio leader Pandora, has some features built into it that give users added control, such as the ability to rewind a song and skip to the next after listening to a portion of it, sources say.

Sony declined to comment. An Apple spokesperson wasn’t immediately available.

Apple last week reached an agreement with Universal Music, the world’s largest label, and it’s very close to finalizing its deal with Warner Music Group, sources say.

That skipping has become an issue is frustrating executives at the other labels because they see Apple’s free radio service as a potential boon for the music industry overall and are eager to help the company get it launched. Streaming music is the fastest-growing segment of the recorded music industry, and Apple’s offering, designed for the iPhone and linked to iTunes, could speed the growth of Internet radio that much faster.

What also excites some music executives about Apple’s planned service is that it includes two other streams of revenue, adding up to an overall deal that should be far sweeter than what the labels get from Pandora. That includes a quick way for users to purchase a song they’re listening to, and a slice of the ad revenue that Apple earns. Apple has told the music labels that it plans to build out its iAd business, including the potential of adding audio ads such as those heard on Pandora’s free service.

All this comes as Apple is feeling more pressure. Google this week rolled out aSpotify-like subscription music service, and, according to sources, is gearing up to launch another music service tied to YouTube…

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