Apple Seeking Unlimited iTunes Downloads Across Mobile Devices

iTunes subscribers may be able to back up their music libraries to the cloud and download their songs as much as they want to their iPads, iPods and iPhones if talks between Apple and music labels are successful.

That's Apple's plan, according to a report by Bloomberg's Adam Satariano and Andy Fixmer, citing three sources with the inside scoop on the negotiations.

An agreement between Apple and Vivendi SA (VIV)’s Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) and EMI Group Ltd. may be finalized by summer, according to the Bloomberg iTunes report.

Under the deal, iTunes users would have a permanent backup of their purchased music, should the originals be lost or damaged, and would allow for unlimited downloads to their Apple mobile devices linked to the same account, according to the report.

This means if a user purchases a track on an iPhone, he or she can download it again for free to an iPad without having to go back and tether the mobile device to a PC or Mac for a sync.

If reports are true, this new plan could help Apple and the recording companies lure listeners away from free Internet music services such as Pandora that let users stream songs from the Web to any device, as opposed to selling downloads the fans keep.

The news comes at a time when the recording industry is experiencing a free-fall in CD sales, as fans increasingly turn to the Internet for their purchases -- but even digital music sales are declining.

Consider Nielsen Wire stats from 2008, in which sales of digital albums were up 32 percent from 2007, and sales of individual digital tracks jumped 27 percent over the previous year’s sales. Compare that to 2010: digital album sales fell 12.7 from 2009, while digital track sales nudged up just 1 percent.

By allowing users to download music they've purchased from iTunes as many times as they want, on multiple devices, Apple would also be bringing its digital music storefront in line with the mobile app model the App Store follows.

Apple did not return calls seeking comment.


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