Apple reaches end of long and winding road

The Beatles have finally got a ticket to ride the digital music bandwagon, after many years when the remaining band members have resisted making their back catalogue available for download.

Apple is expected to announce today that it has licensed The Beatles' music for sale through its iTunes store, ending a stand-off that began before the invention of the iPod, with complaints that Apple was infringing the trademarks of the band's own record label, also called Apple. A deal appears to have been reached in talks between the two Apples, band members and EMI, which distributes The Beatles' music.

Apple launched iTunes to sell music for iPods and other devices in 2003, and The Beatles are the only significant artists to have refused to license their music for sale.

Yesterday Apple invited reporters to a secret event with the teaser: Tomorrow is Just Another Day. The invite includes four clocks, showing the scheduled time in four countries, and evokes the Help! album cover.