By Patrick Avenell

JB Hi-Fi is set to go head-to-head with key suppliers, including Sony, by launching its own music streaming service, according to CEO Terry Smart.

The retailer, which today announced a net annual profit of $134 million, will launch JB Hi-Fi NOW by Christmas 2011. This will be a subscription service, with PC and Mac users able to stream up to 8 million tracks on their computer. Smart said a mobile streaming service, for smartphones and tablets, would also be introduced after the initial launch.

“We intend to have between 6 to 8 million tracks from 100,000 artists at launch and will continue to grow this number over time,” Smart said. “The service will allow for unlimited access and listening to music from your Mac, PC or mobile device.”

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This move will pit JB Hi-Fi in direct competition with Sony, who earlier this year launched its Qriocity Music Unlimited service. Sony claims to have over 7 million songs on Music Unlimited, which costs $4.99 per month for a Basic subscription and $12.99 for the Premium package.

Two years ago, former JB Hi-Fi CEO Richard Uechtritz told that JB was Sony’s biggest retail customer in Australia.