Sony BMG holds out on Aussie service.

Apple Computer's iTunes Music Store finally opened for business today (Oct. 25) in Australia. The digital download store at began operation this morning at 3AM Australian EST.

According to the computer giant, the service went live with an offering of one million titles including local repertoire from Universal Music Australia, EMI Music Australia, Warner Music Australia and leading independents Shock, Liberation, Inertia and MGM Distribution.

As expected, individual titles are priced at A$1.69 ($1.30) and most albums cost A$16.99 ($12.75). Each of the 1,000 music video titles are priced at $3.39 ($2.57).

According to Eddie Cue, Apple's VP of iTunes, the Australian version of the service has the largest amount of independent tracks. Apple's market-leading store now operates in 21 countries. "The Australian market is a very compelling market for us to come to because music has always done very well in Australia," Cue said.

Aside from its international offers, iTunes Australia offers exclusive online tracks from local acts such as Missy Higgins, the Dissociatives, Paul Mac, Powderfinger frontman Bernard Fanning and Spiderbait.

However, as reported here yesterday, the Australian store does not include content from Sony BMG. The label's U.S. headquarters are continuing talks with Apple's head office in California on a number of unspecified sticking points, according to Sony BMG Australia's Sydney-based GM of business strategy and human resources, Emmanuel Candi.

As a result, iTunes Australia does not include the two biggest-selling records in this week's Australian Record Industry Assn. albums chart: Shannon Noll's "Lift" and Pete Murray's "See The Sun," or those by Aussie big-sellers Delta Goodrem, John Farnham, Anthony Callea and Rogue Traders.

International Sony BMG acts in this week's ARIA chart include Franz Ferdinand, Foo Fighters and Jessica Simpson.

Rival local download sites Telstra BigPond, Destra and HMV Music currently offer titles from Sony BMG.

"We know [Sony BMG] artists want to get on (iTunes) because we talk to them about it," Cue said.

The Australian site offers short films from cartoon maker Pixar but not TV downloads, which will be $3.39 ($2.57) an episode when they are available, label sources said.

Australian consumers without credit cards can buy iTunes Music Cards from such department stores as Coles Myer in $20, $50 and $100 denominations.