More news around the Total Music initiative reportedly led by Universal Music Group. According to BusinessWeek, the label has recruited Sony BMG to its plan to launch a provider-subsidized music service to compete with both iTunes as well as struggling subscription music services.

The initiative would allow music fans to access all the on-demand music they want, both streaming online and downloading to their portable devices, much like existing subscription services, except Total Music would be free -- sort of.

The entities offering the service -- which would include Internet service providers and mobile phone operators -- would pay the labels a flat fee for access to the service, as opposed to licensing fees for the music. That fee would be recouped in several ways; added to the fee for existing subscriptions like cell-phone service or monthly Internet access rates; or added to the price of the portable device.

BusinessWeek focused mostly on the device angle. Figuring that consumers typically replace their devices every 18 months -- be it a mobile phone or an MP3 player -- and then applying a $5 monthly subscription fee to that time period, Total Music supporters would propose adding $90 to the cost of any device compatible with the service in lieu of monthly payments.

Sources tell Billboard that the Total Music idea and the details behind it remain very much in flux, and the final product may look substantially different from what is being discussed now if it ever sees the light of day at all.