RYAN NAKASHIMALOS ANGELES (AP) ¿ A new music feature rolled out by Google Inc. Wednesday will bring its U.S. searchers one click away from listening to a full-length song. The simple design brings up to four songs to the top of search results. Once one is clicked on, the song will play on pop-up players from MySpace or Lala. The search results are also accompanied by album art and links to music sites Pandora, imeem and Rhapsody. Internet users can search by artist name, album or song title and can even access a song by typing in part of its lyrics. The clutter-free box pushes down other search results, such as the artists' home page and fan sites, and reduces what Google Inc. calls "time to result," in this case meaning how much clicking one has to do to hear a song. "Within that mission of trying to make music search easier is to keep it simple," said R.J. Pittman, Google's director of product management. "Exercising great restraint in the design of this is what's going to maximize its adoption."
Recording companies are supportive of the move to put legitimate sources of music at the forefront. "This is about extending reach," said Courtney Holt, president of MySpace Music, the social network's joint venture with recording companies. It marks a big coup for News Corp.'s MySpace, which spent $20 million this month to buy music recommendation engine iLike. ILike had been working on the project with Google for months, according to co-founder Ali Partovi. After clicking on a song, a MySpace music player will pop up roughly half the time to play it in full at least once, with an option to buy song downloads from Amazon.com Inc. or Apple Inc.'s iTunes. Users who try to listen to the same song again may get only shorter previews, though the full-length songs along with videos, tour dates, and ticketing and other band information remain available by clicking through to the MySpace or iLike Web sites. Lala, whose player powers the other half of song plays, also offers a way to purchase a song download from its collection of more than 7 million songs after offering one free listen.
The Palo Alto-based startup, in which Warner Music Group Corp. invested $20 million, benefits by being exposed to the millions of people who conduct music-related searches on Google every day. Lala also offers songs that can be played forever online for 10 cents each and is preparing to launch an iPhone app that enables users to listen to those songs on the go. "If you think about music discovery today, the vast majority begins with a Google search," said Lala co-founder Bill Nguyen. "This is going to be the shortest path from interest in music to the ability to play it."