EMI is preparing to launch a music service by the end of the year, representing the latest direct-to-consumer business being planned by a major label.

"This is not an effort to compete with iTunes or Amazon," said a source familiar with the situation.

The service may live on emi.com, which is currently dedicated to a mix of corporate and artist news. The music service will feature a mixture of paid and free content and may to include non-EMI artists as well, according to a source familiar with the situation.

EMI is positioning the effort, which was first reported Wednesday in the Financial Times, as an experimental "consumer lab." One option being considered is a music discovery function where fans of one act could be shown music that matches up with their tastes, similar to how sites like lastfm.com and Pandora.com operate.

EMI is not the only major mulling the launch of a direct-to-consumer business. Universal Music Group is planning to launch a Hulu.com like site for its music videos as well as artist-focused content. The company currently has a large selection of its videos on universalmusic.com, a site that has advertisers such as AT&T and Traveler's Insurance.