Google gets its groove on with music search

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Google stepped onto the Internet music stage, unveiling a service for finding, listening to or buying songs online.

Google announced an alliance with Lala.com and MySpace-owned iLike at Capitol Records headquarters in Los Angeles on Wednesday that could cut down on the number of mouse clicks it takes to sample or purchase a song on the Web.

"We are very excited today to be introducing a music search feature," Google vice president of search Marissa Mayer said before a demonstration of the new service known as OneBox.

"The search results will allow you to do a whole song play to verify it is the song you are looking for," rather than just the 30-second stream typical of most major online music providers.

Google music search lets people search using song artists, titles, and even snippets of lyrics.

Google began rolling out OneBox on Wednesday, with availability limited to the United States.

"I think this is a game-changing thing Google has done," said Wendy Nussbaum of Universal Music Group.

"The key thing for us is you are leading people to legitimate sources of music. Consumers want something easy, and Google gives them that."

A pop-up widget powered by iLike or Lala instantly appears with OneBox search results and offers to play the sought-after song.

The MySpace box provides links to buying MP3 downloads of songs, matching music videos and upcoming concerts by artists, if any are planned.

"Music on Google; how cool is that?" said iLike founder Ali Partovi, now a senior vice president at MySpace, which bought his company just weeks ago.

Partovi described OneBox as "something where everyone is a winner and no one is a loser -- the consumer, rights holders, artists, us, that is amazing."

Google said it is not getting any share of revenues made by the music services, which have money-sharing deals with artists and record labels behind the content.

At least one mainstream music act has given the early thumbs up to the new Google service and its hookup with iLike and Lala.

"Being involved with this made total sense," said Ryan Tedder, lead singer of the band One Republic.

"If it wasn't for MySpace and the Internet, we wouldn't be here."

Tedder promoted One Republic on MySpace after the band was dropped by its label. One Republic is now an international sensation and Tedder a self-proclaimed believer in the power of music spreading on the Internet.

The words "music" and "lyrics" rank among the top ten search terms of all time at Google, according to Mayer.

"At Google, we see millions of music-related queries every day," the search chief said. "It is clear to us that for our users music holds a very special and particular place."

The California-based Internet search powerhouse enlisted Gracenote for software tools that identify songs based on snippets of lyrics.

Lala and iLike provide the music streaming and links to online music purchases and communities for discovering what is being listened to by people with similar tastes.

Record studios and labels applauded OneBox for steering music lovers toward places to buy or listen to music legitimately instead of links to websites where pirated music is shared.

Before OneBox, file-swapping websites known for pirated tunes would be among top results to Google searches for music, according to Tedder.

"This is a tremendous opportunity," said Steve Savoca of independent record label Domino Recording. "Once we expose people to these services we can change behavior and show the legitimate side of music is probably where they need to be."

The world's most popular Internet search engine getting into the music act promises to give bands famous and obscure a tremendous platform for discovery, according to Lala co-founder Bill Nguyen.

"This is the greatest period of music ever," Nguyen said.

"For the last ten years music has been about business models and no one has been talking about discovery. The beautiful thing about what Google is doing is you can listen for yourself and, if you love it, buy it."

Google hopes to find partners in other countries to take the music model international.

Source: AFP

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