09:45 AM

Preparing For Spotify - Google Partners To Launch Music Service - Denies Competing With iTunes

Google launched it's much anticipated music service today, partnering with Lala, Pandora, Rhapsody, imeem and MySpace, to provide music streaming services on Google search pages.

Searchers will be able to hear songs for free for the first play but must pay a fee for subsequent plays. LaLa charges ten cents per song for a lifetime streaming license.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Google itself isn't paying record companies for the rights to play millions of songs on its search page; its partners are. Those include Lala, Pandora,imeem, MySpace Music and Rhapsody, a subscription service from Real Networks. All have licensing agreements with record labels to stream or sample millions of songs online.

..."We're not in the music business per se," said R.J. Pittman, Google's director of product for the music search project. "We don't license the music nor sell the music directly on Google. We are merely a music search feature."

Experian Hitwise, which tracks Internet traffic, says that music is a popular search term. Hitwise analyst Heather Dougherty writes:

- Out of the top 1000 search terms that took place on Google last week, 6% were music-related (includes bands, music services and content).
- Last week, Google sent 1.48% of their total visits to the Music category and of those visits, 95% of the downstream traffic to Music websites were returning visitors (that had visited Google in the past 30 days).
- Google was the top referral website to the Music category accounting for nearly 30% of the total traffic to the category last week, 5x more than 2nd ranked Yahoo! Search and 6.3x more than MySpace.
- Last week, 15% of the clicks from the search term portfolio of Music that includes the names of over 900 band & artist names resulted in a visit to a Google property, especially YouTube.

US music sites are bracing for the US introduction of Spotify, a very popular European based streaming music service. Spotify could launch before Christmas.