Report: Apple’s Pandora-Killer Hits Licensing Trouble With Sony/ATV

One rumor that was nearly forgotten amid the iPhone 5’s launch and iOS 6 media circus was that Apple was reportedly looking to release a Pandora-killer soon. The streaming music service would be a natural next step in the progression Apple’s taken with digital music, but it looks like licensing issues may have stepped in the way once again.

According to the New York Post, citing “sources close to the situation,” music publishers Sony/ATV wouldn’t agree to Apple’s proposed terms, seeking more in terms of a per-song rights fee from the tech industry leader to provide access to its content library for a streaming service.

Sony/ATV is part of Ascap and BMI, copyright associations that normally handle licensing rights for publishers, but the Post’s sources claim Apple had to go direct to Sony/ATV because of the nature of its service, described as a “souped-up streaming service.” That service would reportedly be like Pandora, offering personalized radio streams, but with an added “element of promotion based on what music labels are pushing in any one month,” says the Post’s sources.

Alongside the bump in the road for Apple comes news that Sony/ATV is about to leave Ascap and BMI, which could mean that existing services like Pandora and others lose access to their libraries as well, which covers 2 million copyrights including some top artists.

The planned Apple music service was reportedly intended to accompany the iPhone 5’s launch. There could be some truth to that, as Apple notably didn’t include any iPhone 5-specific software features (which didn’t also get provided to the iPhone 4S via iOS 6) in its release, something we’ve seen happen in the past with the iPhone 4S, 4 and earlier devices.

The report claims we’ll still likely see a streaming Pandora competitor eventually released from Apple as an update down the road, but there’s no timeline mentioned and it’ll likely depend on how licensing negotiation goes from here on out.