Apple Australia has announced a major music-related event on October 25, potentially launching iTunes Music Store that day.
A report on Australia's AppleTalk site claims: "Apple Australia has organised a major briefing at which the worldwide head of the iTunes Music Store and worldwide head of iPod marketing will appear."
This is the third rumoured launch date for the service discussed this month, the report claims.
Sony BMG and Warners don't want to play
It is possible that some major labels may refuse to take part in the store when it does launch. Recent reports claim music catalogues from Sony BMG and Warner will not be available from the service. EMI and Universal have agreed to license songs to the service.
This could reflect Sony's denial that Apple has taken command of the digital music market, and may also reflect Warner's desire to get more money for such sales. Both companies also resisted the launch of iTunes in Japan, which sold one million tracks in a few days after launch.
Exploding market changes business models
Digital music now accounts for 6 per cent of music industry revenues. In a recent royalty-dispute filing with the European Commission, Universal Music declared digital music may account for as much as 30 per cent of total sales by as soon as 2008.
Music industry insiders believe major label resistance to Apple is based primarily on the label's desire to make more money on sales, coupled with their fears that iTunes may become the MTV of digital music.
Apple 'saved music'
Indie labels are rejoicing: "It just goes to show that with online distribution, given a much wider choice, music fans buy what they like rather than what has been forced upon them previously," wrote Odessa Mama Records managing director David Faiman this week.
He believes Apple to have saved the music industry, writing: "There are many other great companies who are involved in digital music distribution, but as a matter of fact, without Apple, it would have taken a few years longer to hit the mainstream. But by then, it would have been too late for many of us in the music business."