Google Whistles a New Tune

December 19, 2005 0

Google Inc. has launched a new service intended to give searchers fast links to song lyrics, musical artists and CD titles on the main search results page.

The music search feature is prominently placed above the main search results in what Google calls its "one box" area — where information such as weather, movies or books may also be highlighted.


Results will also include links to supplemental Google Web pages with more information about the music, including names of tracks on a CD and other CDs a band or artist has released and a choice of online retailers where the music can be purchased. Google also will provide snippets of reviews from sites on the Web and links to those sites.

In analyzing our traffic, we found that a huge number of users conduct music-related searches, Google said in a statement.

Google Music will allow a user to type in the name of a band, artist, album or song in the main Google search bar special, and results will appear at the top, accompanied by icons of music notes, said Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience at Google. We are addressing a deficiency in our Web search, she said.

Items that can be purchased will have links to merchants for online ordering or downloading, she said. Initial merchant partners include Apple Computer Inc., RealNetworks Inc. and eMusic, and retailers selling compact discs, including Amazon Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and others. We are not building out a music store, Mayer said. We are getting people to the iTunes store and others.

While the music search feature holds out the possibility of Google taking a cut of any music sale resulting from directing the user to an online music store, a spokeswoman said there was no plan to charge anyone for the service.

The music section is similar in concept and placement to other special sections Google has created to make it easier to find information about airline flights, express freight shipments, news stories, movies and weather.

The music search feature was developed as a side project by a Google engineer, Google encourages its employees to spend a portion of their work week pursuing innovative projects that may not be related to their core job assignments. These are known as "20 percent time projects." Examples of projects created in this way include Google’s e-mail service, Gmail and Google News, Google spokeswoman Megan Quinn said.

Google is late to the game with music search results, IAC/InterActiveCorp’s Ask Jeeves, Microsoft Corp.’s MSN and Yahoo Inc. all have offered music search for some time, the editors of Web search analysis site SearchEngineWatch.com said.

Unlike Yahoo Inc., Mountain View, Calif.-based Google has no plans to create a music library of its own, Mayer said. Google also won’t collect a referral fee if its visitors click on the new music section and go on to buy songs from one of the linked libraries.

But Google does stand to profit if the new section spurs more search requests about music because that gives its search engine more opportunities to display ads about the same subject. The advertising displayed alongside Google’s main search results accounted for a substantial chunk of the company’s $4.2 billion in revenue through the first nine months of 2005.

Google is working with several online libraries to make sure its song list remains up to date.