Apple is preparing an online music downloading subscription service for Mac users in collaboration with the big five major record labels, reports claim.

A Los Angeles Times story reads: "Top executives have finally found an online music service that makes them excited about the digital future - but it's only for Macs." The report explains that the service could launch "next month".

The report cites "sources" that claim Apple developed the new service to support its iPod and iTunes products. It explains that the service will make buying and downloading music as easy as buying books online from Amazon.

Critics of the music businesses' endeavours to limit online music trading recommend that the industry produces an easy-to-use service to fill the gap left behind by peer-to-peer services such as Napster - in order to offer consumers a simple way to access music honestly.

The report says Apple's service has the ease of use the industry is looking for. However, given Apple's track record for paid-for online services, particularly as evinced in its tardy delivery of online iTunes photo-print ordering to international users, it's unclear if this claimed new music service will be offered internationally.

The LA Times says that no licensing deals have yet been announced, but that "at least four" of the five majors have "committed their music to Apple's service". Sony is reportedly not wholly on board at this time.

The newspaper claims the service will be accessible through a new version of iTunes, will use the AAC audio codec, and that the service is considered so important that Apple CEO Steve Jobs personally demonstrated it to senior music business executives.