The major labels are looking at increasing the price of iTunes Music Store downloads to as much as $2.49 – with experts predicting the move could kill the service.

The US record industry believe iTunes song are too cheap, and the five top labels (Universal Music Group, EMI, BMG, Sony and Warner Music) are discussing a price hike ranging from $1.25 to $2.49 per song.

The Washington Square News notes: "At that price, downloading music will become far more expensive than buying CDs, which would practically destroy the online music market.

"This is counter to everything the record companies should be doing. If anything, they should be cutting prices to make it more attractive to download music legally. Instead, this move will push online music junkies back into the world of file sharing. After all, who wants to pay more for less?

"If the price hike happens it would be more logical to buy a CD. You might pay a couple bucks more, but that extra money buys pretty packaging, better sound quality, often some sort of video extra and, significantly, use unrestricted by Digital Rights Management.

"The record industry doesn't understand that the reason people flocked to free downloading services is because music simply costs too much."