AOL has purchased digital music firm, MusicNow, in a move to dethrone iTunes.

Though terms of the deal (signed September 27) were not disclosed, MusicNow has already been partially assimilated into AOL's digital music service.

The new combined music service is called AOL Music Now.

It will offer a la carte downloads at 99 cents each alongside two subscription music services - a $9.95/month PC-based service and a $14.95/month service with support for Microsoft-powered 'PlayForSure' portable devices.

MusicNow president Gary Cohen clearly described iTunes as a target, saying: "The goal now is to become the number one music service. With AOL's entertainment properties, scale, and marketing opportunities, we're confident we'll get there. It's a powerful opportunity."

However, the Apple AOL relationship may have some time yet, according to iLounge which claims: "AOL said its purchase of MusicNow will not immediately affect its relationship with Apple."

"AOL’s partnership with iTunes is strong, has been fruitful for both companies, and will continue," AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham reportedly told iLounge.

MusicNow offers songs from EMI, Sony/BMG, Universal Music Group and the Warner Music Group. It also offers songs from key independents, such as V2, Epitaph, Roadrunner and indie labels factored by The Orchard.

MusicNow will operate as a wholly-owned AOL subsidiary.