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Apple close to striking deal for Internet radio service

Reports about an iTunes-based subscription music service have been making the rounds for years, but a new report suggests that Apple might finally be on the verge of signing the deals it needs to make iTunes streaming a reality.

As reported by CNET, the company is close to striking a deal with Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group — perhaps in the next week.

Citing two sources familiar with negotiations, CNET said the Apple service would embrace the Internet radio model like Pandora, rather than the on-demand listening available via Spotify and Rdio. Apple is hoping to secure a cheaper per-stream rate than what Pandora currently pays via revenue stream options like links for people to buy the music they hear and audio ads.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on rumours and speculation; Warner and Universal did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

CNET was quick to point out that nothing has been signed, so don't hold your breath.

Apple's last iTunes refresh - iTunes 11 - launched in November. Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) usually takes place in June; could there be a music-related announcement at this year's event?

Last month, there were reports that Apple met with music mogul Jimmy Iovine and his Beats Electronics team. According to reports, Iovine met with Tim Cook and iTunes chief Eddy Cue in late February to discuss a possible streaming music partnership between Beats and Apple.

Meanwhile, rumours of a YouTube music streaming service emerged last month, but Google has not yet made any announcements.