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Apple's Cloud-Based Music Service to Offer Storage, Not Subscription Access

Financial Times reports that Apple has "clarified" with music labels its intent for a cloud-based music storage service, positioning the service as a way to back up existing collections and move music to Apple devices rather than as any sort of subscription streaming service.

Apple, which rocked digital music services such as Pandora, Rdio and MOG last week by announcing plans to keep 30 per cent of all revenues from subscriptions taken out through its App Store, has clarified its plans for using remote storage, known as the cloud, according to several music industry executives.

More than a year after buying Lala, a cloud-based digital music service, Apple is now looking to use the cloud mainly to allow users of its iTunes store to back up their collections and access them from any Apple device.

One person with knowledge of Apple's plans said the company did not want to undermine the market that it dominates for paid downloads, likening its plans for the cloud to "insurance".

It is not entirely clear from the article exactly how users would "access" their cloud-hosted music from Apple devices. Apple has been presumed to be preparing to allow users to simply host their collections in the cloud and then stream tracks to their Internet-connected devices on an as-needed basis, eliminating the need for managing and syncing libraries across machines and reducing onboard storage requirements. The report's emphasis on the "insurance" aspect, however, makes Apple's plans sound more like a backup service than a streaming service, although we would assume Apple is still working to convince record labels to permit streaming rather than forcing users to employ a "re-download" mechanism.