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Google Bows Music Search Service

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Search giant Google has unveiled expansive new music search capabilities designed not only to facilitate music discovery, streams and sales, but also drive traffic to several digital services selected as content providers for the newly launched initiative.

Under Google's new music search system, submitting a search query based on an artist's name, song or album title -- or even snippets of lyrics -- will yield results in a special section on the Google results page. This information includes album art and a set of "play" links that will open a special Google music player, which then immediately streams the full song.

MySpace Music and Lala provide the streaming music for this feature. According to Google director of product management R.J. Pittman, who oversaw the project, the system will randomly choose between the two providers when displaying the streaming links. Each song can be played in full once.

The player also features a "buy" button, letting users purchase the song from whichever service is providing the stream. The MySpace player will also include links to watch the music video and get concert details if the artist is currently on tour.

Also included in results will be links to music services Pandora, imeem and Rhapsody, allowing users to navigate away from Google's results and directly to the artist page on the corresponding service, where they can stream or buy songs from each site directly.

There's also a search-by-lyrics feature as a result of Google licensing Gracenotes' lyrics database. Before today's launch, searching song lyrics would result in a list of links to other lyrics services -- some authorized, some not. Now, the first result would be for the song in question with all the new features, allowing users to stream or buy the track.

The new feature will roll out beginning Wednesday (Oct. 28) evening, a process expected to finish by the evening of Oct. 29. Google unveiled the new service during a special event at the Capitol Records building in Los Angeles, where all partners and several record labels were in attendance.

Record labels executives -- who were consulted in the development of the music search tool -- have expressed great excitement over the announcement. Music is already one of the top music search terms on the Internet today -- with the words "lyrics" and "music" both placing in the top 10 searched-for terms on Google in the last month, according to the company's Insights for Search. But until now fans had to dig through the results to find a place to actually hear the music, often a hit-and-miss process.

Yahoo's search engine has a similar music sampling feature, powered by Rhapsody, but Google is considered the big win. According to Nielsen MegaView Search, Google commands a 64.6 percent share of the Internet search market, with Yahoo a distant second at 16 percent.

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