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Searching For MP3 Gets Easier

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Searching For MP3 Gets Easier

From The Search Engine Report
March 3, 1999

Two new resources have opened for those seeking MP3 files, a popular high-quality format for storing music electronically. One comes from search service Lycos, while the other is from metasearch service SavvySearch.

Lycos opened its MP3 search service on February 1. Powered by technology from the Norwegian-based search company FAST, the service has over 1/2 million files listed. Lycos said it launched the specialty service because so many people were looking for MP3 files -- the term is in the top five searches at both Lycos and Lycos-owned HotBot.

Searching is easy. Simply enter the song title or artist name, and the service returns links to files that contain those words in the file name. The display shows the file size, date it was uploaded and the reliability of the host site. Lycos says the index is updated on an hourly basis, and the most reliable and freshest links are ranked first.

Lycos isn't the only site offering dedicated MP3 searching, but it does claim to be 10 times larger than any of the other services available. To test this, I did some quick queries to see how it stacked up against 2look4, AudioFind, AudioGalaxy, MediaFind and Oth.net.

I searched for "adia" (by Sarah McLachlan) to test matches to a broadly popular song; "just a girl" (by No Doubt) for another popular song from a different genre; and "99 luftballoons" (by Nena) for a non-English song that was nevertheless popular in the United States and elsewhere. My ultimate challenge was "schmetterlinge" (by Bl|mchen), who I've only ever heard of in Germany (and one of my favorite CDs).

FYI, my understanding is that it is illegal for anyone to be posting these particular songs to the web, though there are thousands of legal MP3 files available, in particular through the MP3.com site. See the link below for an offline article about the legal implications of Lycos linking to these files.

The Lycos service performed superbly, even finding 10 matches for the "schmetterlinge" search, far more than any of the services I tested it against. But aside from that search, the other services performed did OK. Oth.net, AudioGalaxy and 2look4 all provided complete coverage, with at least one match for each song -- and many more for the popular songs. After them came AudioFind and then MediaFind.

How to choose between them? Lycos is the clear winner when it comes to comprehensiveness, but interface may also be an important factor for selecting a service. I liked the clean, simple look at Lycos, but others may prefer the additional file information presented by some of the other services. Highlights about them can be found on the new Multimedia and MP3 Search Engines page within Search Engine Watch.

Want to do an even more comprehensive search? The new MP3meta service from SavvySearch sends your queries to eight different services, including Lycos and the ones mentioned above. You'll find matches from Lycos results tend to dominate the results, but other services are definitely included.

HotBot has also sprouted new MP3 functionality. Underneath the search box on the home page, you'll see text that says "Pages Must Include" followed by four checkboxes. Select the MP3 box, do a search, and only pages linking to MP3 files with your search terms in the link, or appearing on the page itself, will be listed. However, you can't download directly, as with the services above.

Lycos/FAST MP3 Search
http://mp3.lycos.com/

MP3meta
http://www.mp3meta.com/

MP3.com
http://mp3.com/

All things about MP3, including thousands of legal MP3 files.

Multimedia and MP3 Search Engines

Links and more details about some of the sites above.

Lycos Directory For MP3 Is Boost For Music Format
Internet World, Feb. 8, 1999
http://www.internetworld.com/print/1999/02/08/news/19990208-lycos.html

More on the why Lycos launched its service. Imagine, sometimes MP3 is a more popular search term than sex!

Is The Lycos MP3 Index Legal
The Search Engine Report, Feb. 3, 1999

A sidebar to the above article that examines how Lycos may be violating a new US copyright law with its index.


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