Industry insiders claim that Internet giant Google is investigating a music subscription tool to be tied into the search engine.
Sources told the Wall Street Journal that the service would launch later in the year with a subscription service some time in 2011. The move looks set to put Google on a collision course Apple's iTunes service.
Google has already been experimenting with music tie-ins via existing music streaming services such as iLike and Pandora and a Google-branded service is expected to take advantage of the company's legendary 'cloud' network as well as incorporating streaming functionality to be available on the Mountainview-based firm's Android mobile phone operating system.
Discussions with the music industry are said to be preliminary at this stage and such a move is likely to increase competitive tensions between the once-tight Apple and Google as the two technology icons appear increasingly willing to encroach on the market of the other.