Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ethan Smith writing for the Wall Street Journal:
Apple Inc. has reached terms with major recorded-music companies to allow it to launch a digital locker service that would be more robust than those currently offered by Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. According to these people, deals with three labels have been completed, and the fourth, with Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, is likely to be signed this week. Apple has signed deals with Warner Music Group Corp., Sony Corp.'s Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Group Ltd. Being out ahead of Amazon and Google to sign all four major labels is huge for Apple. This will allow Apple's music locker to be an 'active' one rather than a passive one. The current way Amazon and Google's services work is you must manually upload music to their services in order for you to stream it later. These deals could conceivably allow Apple to scan a list of all your music in iTunes, and simply make all of that music available on iCloud without you having to manually upload your music. This will make it much more painless to adopt. I'm sure these contracts will allow Apple to do other things as well that Amazon and Google aren't able to do legally.