Apple just signed with EMI Music and is close to closing deals with Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group as well

Amazon and Google may have beat Apple in the race for a cloud music storage service, but Apple may have one-upped them both by obtaining licensing agreements first.

Amazon announced the release of its cloud-based storage service called Cloud Drive back in late March, but record labels complained that the online retailer had not discussed new licensing rights for this service and claimed that it was illegal. Amazon eventually met with record labels last month, but have not reached any agreements yet.

Google released its cloud-based storage service called Google Music just over a week ago, allowing users to upload 20,000 music files and access them from any computer and Android device. But many expect record labels to go after Google as well because the service allows users to store pirated copies of songs instead of just legitimately purchased songs like Apple's iTunes.

Apple may be third in the race, but it is ahead of the game as far as licensing rights go. Previous reports noted that Apple already struck a deal with Warner Music Group, but now, the tech giant has signed an agreement with EMI Music and is close to closing deals with Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group as well. These deals are expected to be completed as early as next week.

With licensing agreements, Apple will be able to release features on its cloud service that others cannot. For instance, Apple will utilize a "scan and match" feature that searches a user's computer for music they own, and adds it to the cloud. This feature originated in Apple's music service Lala, which it acquired in 2009. With Amazon and Google's cloud services, users must perform this process manually.

Record companies are also pleased with the deals made with Apple because record execs feared that other cloud services would follow Amazon's example and release cloud-based storage/players without giving record companies a piece of the pie. With Apple, the world's most valuable brand, on their side, record companies are gunning for success and hoping to show Amazon and Google what they're missing.

Apple has not released any details regarding the date of the cloud's release or details regarding the deals made with record companies at this time, but plans to have the top four record companies on its side just in time for the company's Worldwide Developers Conference on June 6.

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