Google Music (a.k.a. Onebox) Streams Songs in Search Results

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Image: Blogoscoped

Google is rolling out Onebox (or Google Music), its new music search engine, today. When you google songs, albums, an artist name, or lyrics, Google will generate links to full songs at the top of its search results. You can experiment with Google Music here. MTV has more details:

Not so much a new site as it is a new set of integrated options added to normal search results, Google Music connects people searching for artists, songs or lyrics with free streams of tracks care of MySpace’s iLike and Lala and with links to purchase songs and albums from one of Google Music’s partners.

“Music is a big part of our lives. In fact, two of our top 10 queries of all time are music related,” explains the introductory video on Google Music’s home page. “We think it’s time to bring the power of our search to the music industry, so that you can not only find but also discover music.”

So far, Google has agreements with EMI, Sony, Universal and Warnor Bros. for music and Lala, iLike (owned by MySpace), Pandora, Rhapsody and Imeem for streaming and sales. Each search for a relevant artist or song yields a handful of links to free streams. (You’re limited to one full freebie per song; after that, you’re limited to 30-second snippets).

A cursory test drive yielded pretty excellent results: A search for BeyoncĂ© lead to a streaming version of “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” in seconds, and even digging up Mystikal’s turn-of-the-century hit “Shake Ya Ass” was no trouble at all. Though the demo video shows the music search working directly from the Google homepage, as of press time, it worked only from the Google Music page.

Google’s new music search capabilities give iTunes competitors a new leg up on Apple. Interestingly, it also excludes Amazon from its search results. The LA Times has more on the business behind Google Music:

The move was applauded by the music industry, which has been struggling against piracy that has siphoned off billions of dollars of potential revenue from musicians and recording studios. The industry is hoping the search feature will direct users to legitimate digital music outlets and in turn help them compete with free but often unauthorized sources of music.

…Google, which last month accounted for about 70% of Web searches in the U.S., said it wasn’t interested in competing with digital music retailers such as iTunes and Amazon.com Inc.

“We’re not in the music business per se,” said R.J. Pittman, Google’s director of product management. “We don’t license the music nor sell the music directly on Google. We are merely a music search feature.”

But in steering millions of Internet users to its partner sites, Google is indirectly boosting the sites’ abilities to compete with iTunes, which was responsible for 69% of U.S. digital music sales in the first six months of this year, and 35% of all music sales, including physical albums, according to market research firm NPD Group Inc. Amazon, the second-largest player, accounted for 9% of digital music sales and 10% of overall music sales.

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