Google OneBox helping industry out of the box

By David Lieberman, USA TODAY

Google is about to give beleaguered record companies a potentially powerful boost by offering people who search for information about musicians the tools to listen to songs — and buy them.

The new capabilities will be unveiled next week as part of a service tentatively called Google OneBox, according to five executives who have been briefed on the matter but declined to be identified because they are not authorized to disclose the information.

Although Internet users already have lots of ways to access music, Google’s (GOOG) involvement could make the initiative important.

“Radio has lost its mojo” for promoting songs, says Phil Leigh, president of market research firm Inside Digital Media. “When new releases come out, people do a Google search.”

But that’s been a frustrating experience for some fans — and for record companies, which have been lobbying the No. 1 search company to change the way results are displayed when people want to track a favorite performer or song.

The current arrangement just offers links to other destinations and often features a grab bag of fan sites, without a clear way to find the music itself.

Under the new system, the No. 1 search company will put at the top of its own page a box with information, photos and, possibly, song lyrics.

Visitors who want to listen to a song can click on a link that generates a pop-up screen connected to music services Lala or iLike. Lala can stream an entire song from its catalog of about 8 million tunes, while iLike primarily offers clips.

People can buy songs from Lala or jump to Amazon or iTunes.

Google’s also talking to music subscription services, although one, eMusic, says that it’s been difficult to figure out how to integrate them.

Programs such as Google’s are mostly aimed at consumers who only want to purchase a single song, says eMusic CEO Daniel Stein. But he says that while details about his talks with Google are confidential, “perhaps we’ll participate in this type of program in the future.”

Google isn’t the only company trying to beef up its music offerings.

Facebook this week will introduce an arrangement with Lala that makes it possible for people to buy songs and give them to friends without leaving the social-networking site. Transactions will be simple to initiate via an icon on user pages that “is as prominent as the icons for photo and video,” says Lala founder Bill Nguyen.

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One Response to Google OneBox helping industry out of the box

  1. Kim TMV says:

    A worry with this plan is that it will create preferential treatment by Google toward the bigger digital music retailers. If this is the case then what will become of the smaller retailers? Could it lead to them having the same fate as the independent record stores on the high street?

    This article from The Music Void also explores this topic:


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