Google Music Search: A User’s Perspective

Millions of people use Google to learn about bands as well as find music on the Internet. Considering two of the top ten queries surrounding Google are music related , it’s about time that we hear from them.

Google launched its new and potentially titled OneBox, or Google Audio, music service in America on Wednesday, October 28th . While it is not a completely new website, it is “a new set of integrated options to (sic) normal search results.” Partnered with iLike, which was recently acquired by MySpace, iMeem, Lala, MySpace, Pandora, and Rhapsody for streaming purposes, Google has brought “the power of its search to the music industry.” Google has agreements with EMI, Sony, Universal, and Warner Brothers for music.

Now when you search for an artist, the first result is a small picture of the artist accompanied by four or five of their most popular songs in addition to the typical Google search results. You can preview the song—usually courtesy of MySpace or Lala—right there on Google. A small box (hence the working title OneBox) pops up when you press the “play” button. The length of the preview is anywhere from thirty to ninety seconds, and the quality is the same as any other streaming service. Google also gives you the option to listen to the song on any one of its partners’ websites, as well as to purchase the song through that same site. On occasion, you can listen to the song in its entirety. After many searches, there seems to be no pattern as to why some songs are more than a preview and some are not.

Since the beginning of Google’s existence, people all over the globe have been using its services to look up song lyrics. Google has made it easier to find a song that you can’t quite name but know a lyric or two from it, however it hasn’t perfected that aspect of the service just yet. For example, I typed in [Gold coast slave ship bound for cotton fields sold in the market down in New Orleans] from Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones and the links to the lyrics of the song showed up. No preview of the song was available to me the first time I tried it. I typed the lyric in again a few days later and there was a preview of the song. When I typed in the first line of Lady GaGa’s Poker Face [I wanna hold ‘em like they do in Texas, please], the preview option appeared right at the top of the page. This technology is likely to develop over the next few years. Soon it may be possible to search for and find virtually any lyric or song through Google’s new service.

Another one of the music “features” Google has now is that when you search for an album, you will be able to listen to a few songs from it—again, courtesy to one of its partners. I searched for [Wolfgang Amadaeus Phoenix] by Phoenix, and I was able to listen to four of the songs off of the album. I could have bought them or clicked on a link and continued on to iLike to listen to or purchase more songs by Phoenix.

One of the coolest things Google’s new service has to offer relates to their other partners. Pandora is one of the most popular Internet radio sites. It creates radio stations that it thinks the user would like based on the artist or song typed in the search bar. Now, when you search for a song, lyrics, or an artist on Google you are presented with the option to go to Pandora to listen to your query and possibly discover new music as well. Alongside Pandora in the “Listen on” section you can find Rhapsody, iMeem, and Lala, all of which are sites that advertise how you can discover new music through them.

This new service does more for Google’s partners than it does for Google. The new search capabilities are creating a bigger playing field and helping them compete with iTunes and Amazon. In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, writer Alex Pham said, “Although not a direct threat to Apple Inc.’s hugely popular iTunes store, the new feature is expected to bolster the music services that compete with iTunes.” Google’s service was “applauded by the music industry” in hopes to curb the amount of illegally downloaded music. The music industry is hoping for Google to “direct users to legitimate digital music outlets” and create a stronger competition with free (and often illegal) sources of music. R.J. Pittmann, Google’s director of product management, says that Google is “merely a music search feature,” and will not allow users to buy their music directly from the site.

Despite the fact that users won’t be able to buy music directly through Google, this new service offers easy access to means of purchasing. Apple’s iTunes is very user friendly, which is one of the reasons it sells so many songs, but in comparing the amount of traffic for both sites- Google’s numbers more substantial. It is estimated that in 2008, 85 billion searches were performed in the United States on Google alone , however the number of those that were music related is unknown. Imagine if only one percent of the searches were music related, that’s still roughly 850 million searches for artists, songs, lyrics, etc…There is no way to know for sure, but if there had been an option to purchase the song right then and there it’s possible that many people would have purchased the song through Rhapsody, iLike, or one of the many other partners involved with the service.

Rhapsody and iTunes both now have variable pricing. Unlike iTunes, though, you can purchase a subscription for as little as $12.99 per month on Rhapsody and stream your music through a downloaded player (in a similar fashion to Spotify). For two dollars more, you can listen to the 6 million songs “anytime, anywhere—including on your portable player.” The “anytime anywhere” feature is only available on PCs . Rhapsody also makes you fully aware that their songs are compatible with an iPod.

Lala also does something unique to iTunes: it lets potential buyers listen to an album in its entirety, free of charge, before they make a decision as to whether or not they’d like to purchase it. There are two ways one can purchase music on Lala. You can either buy a song online (known as a “web song”) and put in your “Lala collection” for ten cents, or there’s an option to download the song for 89 cents. The first twenty-five web songs are free, and if you decide that you want to download the song, then the ten cents you spent on the web song will go towards your purchase of the download, reducing the price to 79 cents. Lala also has what they call a “Music Mover,” which “instantly adds the music you own to your Lala collection for free.” The Music Mover can take songs directly from your home computer and put them into your Lala collection online so they can be played anywhere.

While Google itself is not interested in becoming a place to purchase or listen to music, simply providing the option to do so levels the playing field with other companies. Now people might not head straight for iTunes or Amazon when they want to purchase a song or an album. iTunes was responsible for 69 percent of all digital music sold in the United States in the first half of the year and it accounted for 35 percent of total music sales—including physical albums . Amazon accounted for nine percent of digital downloads and ten percent of total music sales . Had Google chosen Apple instead of the partners Google now has to fuel its new music service, Apple could have easily become even more dominant in the digital music world. Whether or not Google proposed this idea to Apple first is unknown.

The only thing left to do now is wait and see if Google’s OneBox new music service catches on. More than anything, these “integrated options” add a new level of visibility for Rhapsody, MySpace, iLike, etc as well as more convenience in using Google, the always user-friendly Internet giant.

By Amy Mantis

Pham, Andrew. “Google may call the tune with its new music search feature.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

“Google Music (a.k.a Onebox) Streams Songs in Search Results. Business Pundit. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

Viswanathan, Murali. “Making search more musical.” The Official Google Blog. 28 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

Google. “Discover Music Video.” 28 Oct. 2009. Web. 28 Oct. 2009.

Google Music (a.k.a Onebox) Streams Songs in Search Results. Business Pundit. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

Pham, Andrew. “Google may call the tune with its new music search feature.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

Pham, Andrew. “Google may call the tune with its new music search feature.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

Pham, Andrew. “Google may call the tune with its new music search feature.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

Pham, Andrew. “Google may call the tune with its new music search feature.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

Schonfeld, Erick. “Google Gobbled Up 90 Percent Of All U.S. Seaarch Growth in 2008. TechCrunch. 28 Jan. 2009. Web. 3 Nov. 2009.
< http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/01/28/google-gobbled-up-90-percent-of-all-us-search-growth-in-2008/>

“Rhapsody Online—Frequently Asked Questions.” Rhapsody. Web. 3 Nov. 2009. < http://www.rhapsody.com/rhapsody_faqs>

“Help—FAQ.” Lala. Web. 3 Nov. 2009. < http://www.lala.com/#help>
“Help—FAQ.” Lala. Web. 3 Nov. 2009. < http://www.lala.com/#help>

“Help—FAQ.” Lala. Web. 3 Nov. 2009. < http://www.lala.com/#help>
Pham, Andrew. “Google may call the tune with its new music search feature.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

Pham, Andrew. “Google may call the tune with its new music search feature.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Oct. 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2009.

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Comments

2 Replies to “Google Music Search: A User’s Perspective”

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