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Google ramps up music search capabilities

October 28, 2009 |  6:43 pm

Today at the Capitol Records building in Hollywood, Google unveiled a host of new search capabilities designed to facilitate the online distribution of music. One of the more enticing new features is the ability to find a song for free streaming based on a lyrical query alone. MySpace and LaLa.com will provide the music, and search results will include album art and a special Google-branded player.

The player will come with a "buy" button. The user will purchase the music from the online retailer providing the stream. Thanks to Google licensing Gracenotes lyrics, Billboard also reports that a search for lyrics will now direct users to an authorized database, allowing users to stream or buy a track.

Alex Pham at our Technology blog covered the news today. An excerpt:

The search engine banded together with several music service sites that are responsible for streaming the songs on Google's search results pages. Searching for Coldplay, for example, will yield the band's album cover art, alongside four popular songs that users can play once for free. Once a song has been played by a user, they will only be able to hear a 30-second sample of tune. (The feature is being gradually rolled out over the next 24 hours, so some folks may not see the feature until tomorrow.)

Google Music LaLaGoogle itself isn't paying record companies for the rights to play millions of songs on its search page; its partners are.

Those include Lala, Pandora, Imeem, MySpace Music and Rhapsody, a subscription service from Real Networks. All have licensing agreements with record labels to stream or sample millions of songs online.

The Mountain View, Calif., search company said it's not interested in competing with digital music retailers such as Amazon and Apple's iTunes.

"We're not in the music business per se," said R.J. Pittman, Google's director of product for the music search project. "We don't license the music nor sell the music directly on Google. We are merely a music search feature."

But in steering millions of Internet users to these sites, Google is indirectly boosting its ability to compete with iTunes, which was responsible for 69% of U.S. digital music sales in the first six months of this year, and 35% of all music sales, including physical albums, according to market research firm NPD Group Inc. Amazon, the second-largest player, accounted for 9% of digital music sales and 10% of overall music sales.

Read the full post here.

--Todd Martens