Internet music retail pioneers CDnow Inc and N2K Inc have decided that they can no longer remain independent and announced Wednesday that they are holding discussions about a possible merger. The companies issued a brief statement confirming press speculation about a potential deal but said that no agreement had yet been reached, adding that no assurance could be given that one would be. Neither company was willing to give further details about the merger, but CDnow is expected to be acquiring N2K, whose web site trades under the Music Boulevard name, in a stock- based transaction. The two companies have seen competitors such as Amazon.com, eat into their market share and have seen their stock prices fall from pushing $40 to the low single digits. However, the news of a possible deal saw shares in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania-based CDnow Inc jump 2% to $8.13 while N2K’s stock rose by 22% to $5.50.