According to an article in yesterday's New York Times, Apple is trying hard to ink licensing deals with music companies so it can introduce a streaming internet radio service as soon as next Monday -- the day of the WWDC 2013 keynote.
Apparently Apple hasn't made much progress since rumors about the service first surfaced last summer, as record labels and music publishers aren't happy with the deals they currently have with Pandora and want higher royalty rates and guaranteed minimum payments as well.
The Times notes anonymous sources who say that Apple has signed a deal with Universal Music Group for recorded music rights, but not for music publishing. Over this past weekend, Apple apparently also signed a deal with Warner Music Group for both recorded music and publishing rights. The company is still negotiating with Sony Music Entertainment and the Sony/ATV publishing company, although representatives from all of the music companies and Apple refused comment on the deals.
When it finally arrives, Apple's internet radio service is expected to be free, but supported by advertising. Music companies love the fact that unlike Pandora, Apple can sell music as well directly through the iTunes store -- a potential boon for listeners who can choose to buy a song that they hear and like.