Amazon Reportedly Inks Deals With Four Major Music Labels, Apple Sweats a Little

When Amazon launched its Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player music service without any licensing deals in place, it was an ask-forgiveness-not-permission sort of thing in regard to the major music labels. There was a sense that Amazon execs had a meeting where they looked at each other and said “Screw it, enough messing around, let’s just do this cloud music thing and see what happens.”

It was a gamble--angering all the major music labels when you’re a music retailer isn’t necessarily a great strategy--although considering the volume Amazon sells, perhaps they figured that they had some leverage to spare.

Image credit: New York Times

As it turns out, Amazon did. According to CNET, Amazon now has cloud licensing deals in place with the big four labels: EMI, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group.

What will the new deals bring about? It’s not clear, although it will likely be something similar (or identical) to Apple’s match feature that scans a user’s hard drive for purchased content and then lets the users stream a copy of those tunes from the cloud. Previously, Amazon’s cloud music service required users to upload their content (gotten from any source) to Amazon’s servers and then stream it back to themselves through the Cloud Player.

The announcement probably isn’t making Apple very happy; while they fought tooth and nail to secure licensing deals before launching their service, Amazon appears to have leveraged its position to force the labels into a deal--which is also essentially what Google looks to be trying to do with its still-unlicensed Google Music service.