Updated at 9:22 a.m. PDT
In April, MySpace, which is already used by young acts trying to promote their music, announced it was working on a music service that would handle songs from at least three of the four major record labels. The labels will get an equity stake in the new joint venture and a share of all the revenue the service collects.
TechCrunch reports that Rhapsody and (interestingly) Apple are also bidding for the business.
The MySpace service is expected to offer free streaming music, unprotected MP3 downloads, ring tones, and e-commerce offerings such as merchandise and ticket sales, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe said in April. Among the top four music companies, EMI has so far been the lone holdout.
Can MySpace Music become a welcome alternative to iTunes dependency? No other music site has had either the audience or the clout with the labels to offer a strong option to Apple's wildly popular music service. But with well over 100 million users, 30 million who already listen to music on the site, and 5 million music acts already promoting their music on the site, MySpace could have the heft to give iTunes a strong challenge.
Update: Our music industry sources say Arrington's story is right on, that Amazon is in talks to provide music downloads to MySpace Music, and indeed, MySpace executives are telling the recording companies that their target launch date is Sept. 15.
CNET News' Greg Sandoval contributed to this report.