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Apple cloud music service nearly ready after deal with EMI, say reports

Apple has apparently signed a deal with EMI to provide a cloud music streaming service, and is reportedly close to completing deals with Universal and Sony.

Apple is making major progress with its cloud-based music steaming service, signing a deal with major label EMI and very near to agreeing terms with Universal and Sony, our sister site CNET News reports. The mooted 'iCloud' service could be ready as soon as June.

Having already secured a cloud alliance with Warner Music Group, a clean sweep of the four majors would allow Apple to launch a fully licensed service that lets you stream your music wherever you are.

Using the cloud means you're storing your data on a third party's server and accessing it via your Internet connection, rather than just your hard drive. An iCloud music service would mean you store your songs in a server you can always access from Web-connected devices.

Multiple sources said deals with the other two music labels could be signed as early as next week, with the launch possibly as soon as 6 June at the World Wide Developers' Conference.

In contrast to rival cloud music services from Google and Amazon, the rumoured iCloud will be fully licensed. This gives Apple the green light to offer a range of features Google Music Beta and Amazon Cloud Drive can't provide because of licensing restrictions.

One of these features could be the cool sounding 'scan and match', which looks at the MP3s you have in your collection and gives you instant access to the labels' master recordings of those songs, rather than waiting hours to upload the files themselves.

Apple's price strategy remains unknown, but you might be charged a subscription fee, says CNET News' Greg Sandoval.

Google and Amazon might have raced to the cloud first, but the licence deals are an advantage for Apple. With the blessing of the music industry and iTunes' established brand, the sun seems to be shining on Steve Jobs' cloud.