Rumors have been flying in recent weeks that Apple has been planning to take on Pandora with a music streaming service of its own - but those plans may have been scrubbed temporarily by a single music publisher.
According to reports published Friday, Sony/ATV Music Publishing has been named as the major holdout in moving the service forward.
Jointly owned by Sony and Michael Jackson's estate, industry sources claim Sony/ATV asked Apple to pay a higher per-song rate than competitors like Pandora.
The company recently bought EMI Music Publishing, granting it power over 2 million music copyrights for artists ranging from One Direction to The Beatles - rights Apple needs to offer a competitive playlist and a leverage point for Sony/ATV.
Opening Pandora's box
Generally, it looks as though Apple's music service, created in partnership with music labels, aims to be a more flexible alternative to Pandora, one that allows it to take users directly to the iTunes store while letting labels promote an artist, band, or brand at any given time.
Services like Pandora have traditionally paid music publishers a statutory rate for streaming web radio, rather than having to negotiate with each individual publishing company.
Apple's rumored service apparently goes a step further than Pandora, enabling users to play a selected artist more times than Pandora-like services are allowed.
Part of its plan requires Apple to negotiate with each individual rights holder and not just with the major copyright holders - and that's where trouble came into Cupertino's planned paradise.
Turning down the volume
Music label honchos are reportedly none too keen on Pandora's business model themselves as sources claim the service doesn't provide them with much revenue and takes away from sales.
While the music industry has its issues with Apple, particularly over the legal scramble created when Apple first attempted to announce 90-second song samples in 2010, the industry also doesn't want to see Pandora become too big to topple nor have Apple create an identical service.
Apple, it seems, offers an attractive alternative to the dominate Pandora.
The new service was supposedly set to debut alongside the iPhone 5 earlier this month.
As talks continue, iOS 6's iTunes Match offers songs that are fully streamable for now - eliminating the need to download to a device first.
TechRadar has reached out to Sony/ATV for comment and will update this story if and when additional information becomes available.
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