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Virgin Media is believed to be on the verge of launching its eagerly-awaited digital music service.

More than two years after initial plans were unveiled, the firm is said to be close to agreeing a deal with Spotify and four record companies.

According to a Guardian source, negotiations with Universal Music, EMI, Sony Music and Warner Music have been successful and a deal is "all but signed".

The record companies have the power to veto any agreement Spotify makes with Virgin Media, meaning individual agreements have been needed for each firm.

Virgin Media is now aiming to conduct a service trial over the summer, the news provider stated.

Should this prove successful, a full consumer launch could be scheduled for the final three months of 2011, in time for Christmas.

Plans for a digital music service were first unveiled as long ago as spring 2009, however Virgin Media failed to gain the support needed from the music industry to press ahead.

Instead, it was rival broadband provider Sky which took the lead, through the launch of its Sky Songs service in October that year.

However, the subscription-only service proved unpopular with consumers and costly for Sky, leading to its closure in December 2010.

Virgin Media is aiming to do things differently – it will offer easier access to music downloads without the need to take out a subscription package.

The music industry hopes that the launch of a broadband-provider 'freemium' music service will help dissuade consumers from using illegal filesharing websites.

Under the Digital Economy Act, which was passed last April, consumers put themselves at risk of being disconnected from the internet if they continue to perpetrate copyright breaches.

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