Google is to enhance its music search results to allow consumers to buy songs for download.
The launch of the new service next week is the search giant’s riposte to news that Microsoft’s Bing search engine will be able to index tweets and updates from Twitter and Facebook.
Google’s new music pages will package images of musicians and bands, album artwork, links to news, lyrics, videos and song previews, along with a way to buy songs, according to reports. It is unclear if they will be available in the UK at the same time as the US.
The package is similar to how companies get individual pages for Google’s financial news service.
Google will team up with iLike, a music discovery site purchased by MySpace in August for a reported $20 million, and LaLa, another popular online music site, for the new feature provisionally called “One Box”. Song previews will appear in Lala or iLike online music players, and users will not have to navigate away from the search results page to listen to the music and to buy it.
The effort marks a new way for Google and the recording companies to promote alternatives to Apple’s iTunes, the leader in song downloads.
The four major record labels – Warner Music, EMI, Sony Corp’s Sony Music Entertainment and Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, have all licensed their catalogues for Google’s initiative, which is expected to launch next week. Many independent labels also are expected to take part.
They will benefit by sharing revenue from song sales with Lala and iLike, while making the discovery, experimentation and buying process simple for people who use Google to search for music. Google will collect revenue from advertising that will be shown with the search results, according to reports.
The development comes as compact disc sales continue to plummet as sales of individual song downloads are on the rise.
Recording companies are searching for new ways to tap audiences online and collect revenue from advertising, licensing and downloads. Other online music services such as Spotify are struggling to put together enough subscribers to support its service which allows users free access to millions of tracks if they are put up with regular adverts.
Premium subscribers who pay £9.99 a month can listen to tracks ad-free.
Martin McNulty, director, Forward Internet Group, said: “Everyone’s favourite start-up, Spotify, could soon face its first major test with the latest “mix” from Google. Tapping into sites that blend free music streaming with social networking is a smart play by Google.
“Unlike Spotify, which hopes to drive revenue from either subscriptions or advertising, Google’s social partners are planning to monetise a far broader space, including downloads, merchandise and, crucially, the lucrative concert market.”
Content courtesy of The Times