Apple knows it's Christmas time, and is doing what it can to feed the world - it made Band Aid 20's charity single 'Do They Know It's Christmas' available through it's iTunes Music Store this morning, and the song has risen fast to be the number-one selling track on the service.

Apple had previously refused to carry the single, as digital services were asked to charge £1.49 for the track, with all proceeds going to the charity. The company was criticised for its inflexibility. Now, in an eleventh hour about face, Apple has decided to release the single anyway, but charging just £0.79 for the track.

Instead of charging £1.49, Apple has agreed to contribute an additional £0.70 of its own money to the charity for each track sold.

Apple said: "Apple is pleased to offer the Band Aid 20 single on the iTunes Music Store to raise funds for the plight of hunger and poverty in Africa. Since all songs on iTunes are £0.79, we've decided to sell it for £0.79 and Apple will donate an additional £0.70 for each downloaded song to the Band Aid Charitable Trust."

The physical single retails for £3.99 in high street record shops and contains both the new and the original Band Aid single. The original single is also available through iTunes for just £0.79.

Dream the dream

A senior source at Universal Music, which is supporting the release, last week exclusively told Macworld that negotiations between it and Apple with a view to carrying the digital version of the release on the world's leading digital music service "continued".

"We'd certainly like to reach an agreement with Apple, and I imagine Apple feels the same way", he said at that time.

The project has attracted significant support, with the UK government agreeing to refund VAT paid on sales of the single and accompanying DVD, and HMV, Virgin Megastores and Woolworths all agreeing to donate their share of the proceeds to charity.

The original 'Do They Know It's Christmas?' single raised £8 million, with Live Aid rasing £80 million in year one. In the end the project raised £110 million - the equivalent of Africa's weekly debt repayments. Over a quarter of a million pounds are still contributed to good causes each year.

Over 72,000 copies of the single sold on its release on Monday this week, making the song the fastest-selling single released so far this year, shifting more copies than the "rest of the top 30 combined", according to the BBC. If 500,000 copies of the single are sold, it will raise "over £1 million for charity", the BBC reports.

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