Google Adds Music Search Feature

Google has introduced a new feature that provides information about music and musical artists in response to music related search queries.

The new feature works directly from any Google web search form, and results are returned as "one box" results at the top of the search result page next to a musical notes icon. As with other types of "one box" results, which can be triggered when searching for news, products, images and so on, music results are displayed when Google determines that a query might be related to a band or artist name, a song name, album or song lyrics.

"When we did log analysis, we found a surprising number of users doing queries on Google for music," said Marissa Mayer, Google Product Manager.

Results include links to more information on the web, as well as links to sources where you can purchase music. These links include online sources, such as Apple, Real and eMusic, as well as retailers selling CDs, including Amazon, WalMart and others. For the CD retailers, Google has access to inventory feeds and only returns a link to a store if items are in stock.

Google has no financial relationship with the sellers of music. Placement in search results is determined by a combination of the retailer's page rank and other relevance factors, as well as an element of "randomness" to ensure "fairness," according to Mayer.

Beneath these links are links to Google hosted pages that include things like album artwork and track listings, band information, user reviews and other information. Google gets some of this information from undisclosed third party providers, and some from crawling the web.

To see the new music results in action, try a search for madonna. A picture of her, some information and a link to More music results for madonna will appear at the top of the page. You can also go directly to Google Music Search here. It doesn't look pretty, but enter a query, hit the Search Music button, and you'll get back music search results.

Google is late to the game with music search results—Ask Jeeves, MSN and Yahoo have all offered similar features for some time. Here's a look at what's available elsewhere.

Yahoo

Yahoo web searches for solo artists or groups name often provide shortcuts to pages on the Yahoo Music site. For example, a search for "Coldplay" (no trigger word like "music" needed) offers a Yahoo "shortcut" offering direct links to the Coldplay Artist Page on Yahoo Music, which includes a bio, music to purchase direct from Yahoo Music, photos, lists of similar artists and more. A Concert Tickets link takes you to the Yahoo Tickets page for that artist or group.

Coverage appears to be across all music genres.

Other artists with shortcuts at Yahoo:

Separately from these web search results, Yahoo Audio Search database and music price comparison engine launched in August is a site that is not to be missed by any music lover.

Ask Jeeves

Ask Jeeves has offered a Smart Search box for many pop artists for some time. Again, no trigger word is needed. Here's an example for The Rolling Stones. Here you'll find a short bio and picture (via AllMusic.com, an amazing reference resource all by itself) along with a links to read the full bio on AllMusic.com.

With many music related queries, you also find direct links to images (via Ask Jeeves), products (via PriceGrabber, tickets (via Ticketmaster, owned by Jeeves parent IAC), downloads (via the new AJ partnership with GoFish) and discography, songs, and credits (via AllMusic).

In some cases, a Wikipedia entry, links to the artists official site and other links are
provided.

Ask Jeeves' Zoom feature (in the right margin of results) is also useful, allowing you to find (in some cases) links to related groups and people. For example, related names for The Stones include: Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, and Pink Floyd.

Ask Jeeves offers the same degree of coverage as Yahoo, with results returned for all of the artists mentioned above.

MSN Search

MSN Search also offers music related direct answers on web results pages. No trigger word needed. Here, you'll find a brief (sentence or two bio from AllMusic.com) and a hyperlink to the performers page on the Yahoo Music site.

The bio contained more info but it was difficult to find the rest. Why? I was using Firefox. No surprise here, the service worked better on my browser with Internet Explorer than with Firefox.

Along with links top downloadable songs that you can also listen to clips of online. Clicking on either the title or "listen link" takes you to the appropriate page for that song on the MSN Music site. Individual tracks and albums can also be purchased direct from MSN. A direct link to the MSN Music homepage is located below each bio. The homepage allows you to browse music by genre, view new releases, and so on.

Like Yahoo and Ask Jeeves, MSN Search returned results for all of the above artists with the exception of classical cellist Yo Yo Ma.

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