Google adds music search and purchase features

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Google is introducing a music search feature that details the work of certain featured artists, the company said late on Wednesday.

"In analysing our traffic, we found that a huge number of users conduct music-related searches," Google said in a statement.

The music search feature is prominently placed above the main search results in what Google calls its "one box" area — where information such as weather, movies or books may also be highlighted.

When a user enters a music-related search in Google search box, the resulting search returns information about the artist, a few albums and a picture, when available, above the standard search results.

A link to "more" music results leads to user reviews, song titles and a choice of online retailers where the music can be purchased.

Online sources include Apple Computer, RealNetworks and eMusic, and retailers selling compact discs, including Amazon, Wal-Mart Stores Inc and others, the editors of web search analysis site wrote after a briefing by Google.

For the CD retailers, Google receives data feeds of the inventory and only returns a link to a store if the item is available, SearchEngineWatch said.

While the music search feature holds out the possibility of Google taking a cut of any music sale resulting from directing the user to an online music store, a spokeswoman said there was no plans to charge anyone for the service.

Google is late to the game with music search results, the analysts noted. IAC/InterActiveCorp's Ask Jeeves, Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo all have offered music search for some time.

These music links will show up in limited cases tied to specific music artists initially. But Google plans to expand the range of searches that trigger the music feature over time, Google spokeswoman Megan Quinn said.

The music search feature was developed as a side project by a Google engineer, she said. Google encourages its employees to spend a portion of their work week pursuing innovative projects that may not be related to their core job assignments. These are known as "20 percent time projects". Examples of projects created in this way include Google's email service, Gmail and Google News. said that placement in search results is determined by a combination of the retailer's general Google search rank and other relevance factors, and an element of "randomness" to ensure "fairness".

Some of the music information comes from undisclosed information suppliers to Google and some from Google's own crawling of websites, SearchEngineWatch said.

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