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Report: Beatles coming to iTunes

Apple has obtained rights to Beatles music, according to The Wall Street Journal, presumably the "exciting announcement from iTunes," the company promised for tomorrow.

The rights to offer music from the Beatles on iTunes had eluded Steve Jobs for years, but it appears the Apple CEO will finally offer songs from one of the world's most beloved bands.

Clues to Apple's announcement? The clocks appeared in a note that Apple posted to its site today and below is famous cover art from The Beatles' album 'Help.'

Apple will offer The Beatles music at iTunes, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The paper said Apple is planning to make the announcement but cautioned that the company "could change plans" at the last minute.

Apple posted a note to the company's Web site today and promised to make an "unforgettable" announcement tomorrow. Blogs and social networks were crammed with speculation about what Apple might be rolling out next.

Apple was thwarted from acquiring rights to The Beatles' catalog by several factors, including a feud with the band over the Apple trademark. In the late 1960s, The Beatles named their holding and record company Apple Records.

Acquiring exclusive digital rights to the songs was also an issue. Had The Beatles cut such a deal years ago, it risked alienating Wal-Mart, Amazon, and other music retailers online and off, according to sources with knowledge of the negotiations. There is nothing in the Journal story to indicate whether the agreement with Apple, EMI, and The Beatles is exclusive.

If Apple does unveil tomorrow some of the world's most recognizable songs, such as "Yesterday," "Help," and "Across the Universe" then it would end one of the longest-running Apple rumors. Every other year it seemed, someone would spark a media frenzy by floating a rumor that Apple was getting The Beatles.

Spokesmen for EMI, The Beatles record label, and Apple declined to comment.

If you're one of those people who ripped your Beatles' CDs long ago or downloaded them off a file-sharing site, then a Beatles-iTunes arrangement might be anti-climatic. But this might be the highlight of Apple's announcement.

Apple has not obtained the licenses needed to offer a streaming or digital locker for either music or video, according to numerous sources in the the music and film sectors. Apple this year has labored on enabling iTunes users to upload their music and video libraries to the company's servers where they could be stored and then access from Web enabled devices.

As for the probability that Apple will debut The Beatles at iTunes, some fans of the band at CNET as well as music industry execs said they spotted traces of The Beatles in Apple's post. A graphic in the notice showed four separate clocks pointing to different times. This was reminiscent of the album cover from The Beatles legendary album "Help."

In the spirit of the "Paul is Dead" conspiracy theories of the 1960s, in which Beatles fans parsed the lyrics and album artwork for clues that Paul McCartney had actually died in a car crash and was secretly replaced in the band, we found that each of the words in Apple's notice can be found in a song written or performed by The Beatles.

A stretch maybe, but this is Apple, right?