US Music-industry bible Billboard is to publish details of Apple's new digital-music service at 8pm UK time – but only to subscribers of the Premium Services section of A minimum six-month subscription to the Web service costs $175 for UK and Europe.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is planning to make its official announcement about the company's music-download service on Monday April 28 (6pm UK time).

Billboard reports that "high-quality design and simplicity of use are expected to be the hallmarks of the new digital music service from Apple".

Label sources have told Bulletin that the service is an a la carte download store - like that of rival Liquid Audio - that is built into iTunes. No subscription is required for the service, and tracks are expected to retail for an average of 99 US cents. Once purchased, tracks are transferred to the iTunes music library, and are automatically synched to the iPod. Content can also be burned to CD.

Mac only Credit-card information will be stored in the store's shopping-cart system so the consumer does not have to re-enter the information for each purchase. The offering is expected to be made available initially only to Mac users.

As part of its announcement, Apple is expected to unveil content-licensing deals with all five major record labels: Universal, EMI, Sony, BMG, and Warner Music. The Apple service is also expected to feature music from high-profile acts whose repertoire has not previously been available for digital distribution.