Social networking Web site MySpace is forming an online music venture with three major record labels to sell digital music.

The new deal will unite the Web site with Vivendi's Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and Warner Music Group. The financial terms of the agreement were not released.

MySpace says it hosts about five million profile pages for major acts, as well as smaller independent artists. With the new service, fans will be able to directly download digital music and merchandise from artist profile pages.

The new venture will compete with Apple's iTunes service, which, according to a new consumer survey, recently surpassed Wal-Mart stores to become the number one music retailer in the United States.

Apple, which makes the popular iPod music player, says it has sold more than four billion songs since the online music store opened five years ago.

In other music industry news, the New York Times newspaper reports superstar rapper Jay-Z is close to a $150-million deal with concert promoter Live Nation.

According to the report, Jay-Z will leave his longtime record label Def Jam to sign up for a deal that includes financing for his recorded and live performances for the next decade.

Live Nation has made similar pacts with Madonna and U2.


Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.