Apple’s Music Locker: Nearly Here?

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A music industry veteran claims that Apple is pushing hard to launch a digital music locker service in April. This service would allow iTunes users to store their music online and access it from any compatible device.

The report comes from Wayne Rosso, the former president of Grokster and record label consultant. Citing anonymous “informed sources,” Rosso wrote that Apple has already worked out a deal with Warner Music Group, and is using that agreement as leverage against the other three major music labels. Universal Music and EMI are expected to sign on, and while Sony may hold out the longest, Rosso doesn’t expect that resistance to last.

The digital locker service will reportedly cost $20 per year and will launch in tandem with a revamped MobileMe service, also rumored for April. That service could include free online storage and a possible repository for all iPhone activity, according to previous rumors. Apple has confirmed that it plans to open a $1 billion data center this spring for iTunes and MobileMe services, so these rumors may have legs.

Rosso’s report is coincidentally timed. Last week, Greg Sandoval reported for CNet that Google is testing its own digital locker service, but that the company still needs to make agreements with the major labels. The whole digital locker concept is new to the labels, Sandoval reported, and they’re moving carefully. If Apple is close to sealing the deal, I can’t imagine that Google is far behind.

We’ve been hearing rumors about digital music locker services from Google and Apple for months. I’ll be thrilled if they finally come to fruition soon.