BusinessWeek is reporting that Universal is planning a true iTunes killer service to launch in the States that will be called "Total Music".

After recently refusing to renew long-term contracts for Universal content to be sold through Apple's online store, it seems Universal plan to take things into their own hands and go direct to the consumer.

Universal will "join forces" with other record companies to launch an industry-owned subscription service. Sony BMG Music Entertainment has apparently already signed up and the company is in talks with Warner Music Group.

As BusinessWeek points out, together the three would control about 75% of the music sold in the US. As well as competing with Apple for the iPod market, the new service would offer wireless functionality to appeal to Microsoft Zune and Sony PlayStation owners.

While exact details are still to be confirmed, it seems the best news of all, for consumers, is that Total Music's business model will offer the service free to consumers.

The suggestion is that when a customer buys a phone, or an MP3 player, they get all-you-can-eat music downloads free for the life of the device, with the hardware manufacturers picking up the tab.

All still schemes and dreams at this stage, but we'll keep you informed.