Apple is reported to be in talks with record companies in a bid to ease out download restrictions on music from iTunes store. Currently when a user purchases a song, he is able to download it only once to his device. If Apple has its way, iTunes users will be able to download the songs that they have purchased multiple times and across multiple devices that they may own. This will relieve users from the mundane task of syncing music albums across different devices.
Apple has already made headways in its talks with Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Group, however a final announcement would be made by the mid of the year.
In order to support the new model, Apple would build a cloud based music storage service, that will store the albums for each user. Apple plans to accommodate this service at its $1 billion data center that it has just built in North Carolina. The cloud based storage will additionally allow users free and reliable music storage that could be readily backed up in case the Macbook or iPod gets stolen. According to Bloomberg report:
A deal [between Apple and music companies] would provide iTunes customers with a permanent backup of music purchases if the originals are damaged or lost, said the people. The service also would allow downloads to iPad, iPod and iPhone devices linked to the same iTunes account, they said. The move would be a step closer to universal access to content centrally stored on the Internet.
The growing popularity of services like Spotify, that offer unlimited music streaming in return for monthly subscriptions, has seriously challenged iTunes domination over the music streaming/download market. With the new service Apple would be able to replicate the unlimited download, hassle free music storage, any time music access features that the subscription based model offers.
However, even with the new service it would be an uphill battle for both Apple and the music companies to convince users to purchase each and every song, instead of opting for a subscription based consumption model.