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Apple to announce something music-related Sept. 9

September 2, 2008 |  4:45 pm
Apple's invitation

The Apple invitation is being analyzed and deciphered -- a fuchsia-colored man jumping with white iPod headphones. One point to anyone who guessed it would be music-related.

Most likely, the Cupertino, Calif., company will unveil a refreshed line of iPods at the Sept. 9 gathering. Maybe a few bands or musicians will perform, since the event will be held at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts theater in San Francisco. Some speculate Apple could announce that the Beatles catalog will join iTunes.

One thing the announcement apparently won't be about: a digital music subscription service. Music-industry sources say such a service, which Apple has been discussing for a while, isn't going anywhere at the moment.

But think about the five stars. Decoration? Or, could it be a reference to a rating system, maybe from the users? That makes me think about a new iTunes, complete with its own social network. Apple observers have long noted that by adding social networking tools, such as ways for people to find each other and recommend and talk about music, Apple would surely sell more on iTunes. And what about the "Playing Soon?" Of course, that could be in reference to the event itself but could it also be a hint that iTunes is going to open up in a way that lets artists interact with fans, such as announce upcoming tours?

Perhaps one early sign of artist/fan interactivity: The band Snow Patrol said it would be the first artist to release an interactive album for the iPhone and iPod Touch.

As an aside, the Apple invitation cannot be good news for Billboard, which is having its Mobile Entertainment Live event, which is part of CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment 2008 and happening on the very same day (one block over).

Almost at the very hour of the Apple event (will it be Steve Jobs talking?), the Billboard keynote speakers -- Paul Smith, head of major label relations at Nokia, and Michael Nash, executive vice president of digital strategy and business development at Warner Music Group -- will speak, no doubt facing a thinner crowd than they had expected.

-- Michelle Quinn

Image: Apple's invitation to the media.

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