Apple Computer is expected to announce the launch of its long-awaited iTunes Music Store in Australia tomorrow (Oct. 25). Two U.S.-based executives, Eddy Cue, VP of Apple's applications division, and

Apple Computer is expected to announce the launch of its long-awaited iTunes Music Store in Australia tomorrow (Oct. 25). Two U.S.-based executives, Eddy Cue, VP of Apple's applications division, and Greg Joswiak, VP of iPod product marketing at Apple, are in Australia to brief an hour-long media conference.

iTunes Australia is expected to begin operations from Oct. 31, label sources say. Single tracks are likely to range in price from A$0.99 ($0.75) to A$1.69 ($1.30). Music videos and television show episodes are expected to cost $3.39 ($2.57).

Until now, Australian consumers have not been able to access iTunes unless they have owned a credit card from a U.S.-based company.

Protracted negotiations with local offices of Sony BMG and Warner Music delayed its launch here, which was first expected on October 2004, and then April 28 of this year.

Sources tell Billboard.biz that Warner Music signed off on final negotiations just last week. It is unlikely Sony BMG tracks will be offered when iTunes goes live here.

Apple's iPod is estimated to have a 70% stake of the digital music player market in Australia.

Publishers and songwriters negotiated an interim license scheme in early April for iTunes, confirms Brett Cottle, CEO of the Australasian Performing Right Assn. and the Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society. The scheme provided for a mechanical royalty rate of 6.25% of the retail price and a communication royalty rate of 1.75% of the retail price, producing a combined rate of 8% of retail price. It is similar to the rate applied to other Australian download services, Cottle says.

iTunes is expected to make an immediate impact on Australian online music sales. The take-up of Aussie-based online music stores such as Ninemsn, Destra Corporation and Telstra's BigPond has been low since their launch December 2003. Destra CEO Domenic Carosa estimates the Australian digital music market is at 0.5% of overall music sales.

Music retail market leader Sanity Entertainment's CEO Greg Martin agrees that its digital business is less than 0.5% of total revenue.

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