A week before the debut of its new cloud music service, Apple has struck a deal with Universal Music Group, the last holdout of the four major U.S. record companies. With EMI, Warner Music and Sony already in its pocket, Apple will have achieved what cloud service competitors Amazon and Google couldn't: authorized use of copyrighted music. CNET's Greg Sandoval has some details of how the revenue from iCloud song sales will be divided: "The labels will get 58 percent, and publishers will receive 12 percent. Apple will take 30 percent."

Besides freedom from immediate litigation, the advantage Apple gets with approval from record labels is more features for its customers. Unlike Amazon's Cloud Drive or Google's Music Beta "Apple will be able to scan customers' digital music libraries in iTunes and quickly mirror their collections on its own servers ... If the sound quality of a particular song on a user's hard drive isn't good enough, Apple will be able to replace it with a higher-quality version," explains Business Week. That high quality streaming will be available across PCs, iPhones and iPads.

Still, though Apple's reported features clearly outshine Amazon and Google's cloud services, what may keep it from dominating is its price. When iCloud launches on June 6 at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, the service will be free, reports The Los Angeles Times. That will give it a clear advantage over Google and Amazon's free(ish) services. However, this will likely just be a trial period. "The company plans to eventually charge a subscription fee, about $25 a year, for the service." reports the Times. That could be a enough to drive cloud-hungry audiophiles to Amazon or Google