Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. is in advanced talks with four top music companies on starting a digital music service as early as this summer, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Online retailer Amazon.com Inc. is in advanced talks with four top music companies on starting a digital music service as early as this summer, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Amazon is seeking to create a viable rival to Apple Computer Inc.'s fast-selling iPod music player and iTunes music service.

It is in talks to license music from Vivendi Universal's Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group Corp. and EMI Group Plc., the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The company is considering a subscription music service that would include a discounted portable music player bearing the Amazon brand, the report said.

Amazon officials were not immediately available for comment.
-- Reuters