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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

I'm Melissa Block.

And it's time now for All Tech Considered.

(Soundbite of song, "Tickle It")

BLOCK: We get a lot of emails asking about that music. It's a song called "Tickle It" by Mocean Worker. And if you really love that song and want to hear it more often, you could download it from iTunes, or maybe someday in the near future, you can store it in a cloud. In recent weeks, there have been rumors that Google is planning a cloud-based music service, and it's not alone in those ambitions.

Here to tell us more is NPR's Laura Sydell. Laura, I love the idea of my music being in a cloud. How would this work?

LAURA SYDELL: Well, the way it works is that essentially what you mean by the cloud is online. So it's not on your hard drive. And we have a little of that right now when you look at subscription services. For example, Rhapsody, right? You pay a monthly fee, and you're able to access millions of songs that are stored up in the cloud.

What this would be is an even further step. So you would essentially be able to take music, say, you bought a CD. You put it on your computer. It would then upload it into the cloud, so it would be kind of wonderful - all your music would be stored up there, in the cloud.

BLOCK: And you could - in other words, you could access it in many more ways than you can now?

SYDELL: Exactly. So, right now, you know, you have to have your iPad or you have to have your computer with your iTunes on it. What would you be able to do, essentially, is no matter where you were as long as you were in your Internet-connected device that had speakers, you could access all of your music. And so that would be kind of great, really. No matter where you travel, there it would be.

BLOCK: And we mentioned Google. Other people, other companies also thinking about starting cloud-based music services, too?

SYDELL: Absolutely. And, of course, the big kid on the block is Apple. And the word is that Apple is going to do, say, purchase a company called Lala.com, which never really got off the ground in a big way, but they had the technology to do this. And so the belief is that because Apple purchased Lala, Apple now wants to do this, and they want to give you the ability to access, you know, whatever youve got on your iTunes and just access it from wherever you are.

BLOCK: What are the challenges for companies that are trying to launch a service like this here in the U.S.?

SYDELL: Big challenges, actually. And there is a reason we don't have it yet. Many years ago, a company called MP3.com tried to do this. They wanted to create a locker up in the cloud where you would store your music. And they were sued by the record companies. The record companies essentially argued that as soon as you put your music up in the cloud and then you played it from wherever you were, that was sort of like broadcasting it, and so therefore, they should get an extra fee.

So one of the things that has been taking so long is that all of these companies are trying to negotiate some kind of deal with the record companies so they don't get used. Some are not trying to negotiate that deal. MP3tunes.com is actually in the middle of a lawsuit with EMI, which is suing them specifically over this issue.

BLOCK: And what do you think, Laura, the best guess of when we might have a cloud-based music service including all the major labels?

SYDELL: Well, the risk of spreading of rumors, I really do think it's going to be within the year because I just spoke with the head of a small company called eMusic.com, and he said they're going to launch one within the year. They don't have all the rights from all the big companies, but he also felt that was pretty much what was going to happen with Apple as well, and that is what I'm hearing. And I think it probably is true.

BLOCK: Okay, NPR's Laura Sydell, thanks so much.

SYDELL: You're welcome.

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