Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, has told the music industry it expects to unveil an online music store this month.

The company is still finalizing deals with the five major music companies and has told music industry executives it could launch the service by Nov. 15. If it doesn’t meet that date, the company hopes to launch the service by Thanksgiving, sources say.

It has long been believed that Wal-Mart was working toward launching a digital music store on its Walmart.com site, but the company had not publicly given a timetable.

A Walmart.com spokesperson declined comment.

The service would compete with a myriad of other digital services, such as Apple Computer’s much-hyped iTunes service and one operated by Buy.com.

In the wake of Apple’s success with iTunes, which was launched earlier this year and recently was made available for Windows users, Wal-Mart’s launch will be the first of several planned launches of online music stores by some of the company’s largest media and technology companies. It is unclear what Wal-Mart’s pricing strategy will be for music downloads. Prices on existing services range from 79 cents to 99 cents per song. But Wal-Mart, which accounts for roughly 20 percent of U.S. music sales, typically sells music at a loss to attract customers to its stores.

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