Google, labels partner on music search: sources

NEW YORK Wed Oct 21, 2009 2:04pm EDT

A Google search page is seen through the spectacles of a computer user in Leicester, central England July 20, 2007. REUTERS/Darren Staples

A Google search page is seen through the spectacles of a computer user in Leicester, central England July 20, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Darren Staples

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Google Inc is partnering with major music labels to launch a new feature to make it easier to discover, sample and buy songs on the search engine, according to two people familiar with the plan.

The recorded music industry, struggling with plunging sales and fewer media outlets to break new acts, hopes that streaming songs or clips on the world's most popular search engine will help stem the tide. Google has around 65 percent of all search queries in the United States, according to comScore.

Start-ups iLike and LaLa will facilitate the new feature, which will enable songs to be streamed on the Google page that will also include a "buy" button. This will help reduce the number of steps fans need to purchase their favorite songs or albums.

By clicking on that button, customers will be taken to a variety of different sites, including Amazon.com and Apple Inc's iTunes Music Store, where they can buy music.

Privately held LaLa and iLike, which was recently acquired by News Corp's MySpace social networking site, are set to begin the new service on October 28, said the sources, who were not permitted to speak publicly about it ahead of the launch.

The new service will involve all of the major music labels -- including Vivendi's Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Music.

The labels are betting that by making it easier to search for music, they can increase the size of the digital market, which is currently dominated by iTunes, with about 70 percent of download sales.

News of the service -- still to be named -- was first reported by technology blog TechCrunch. Google declined to comment.

The move to make Google's music search easier will consolidate the company's role in the industry. YouTube, the online video site owned by Google, is already a key music discovery site for fans.

Separately, Universal Music and Sony Music are partnering with YouTube to create a new music video service called Vevo, which is expected to launch in December.

(Reporting by Yinka Adegoke, editing by Paul Thomasch, Maureen Bavdek and Lisa Von Ahn)

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