No matter what your search engine of choice, there’s no denying the fact that Google has made life -- or at least navigating the web -- a whole lot easier. There seems to be no end to the services that Google offers. Now the search engine giant has entered the music arena. What can we expect to see -- or, more precisely, hear?
Google's current services go beyond navigating the web and take us into navigating life in general. Want to know where the closest sushi joint is? Use Google Maps. Want to know how to get there? Type in your address and the address of the location using the same application; you can even get directions using public transportation. Want to quickly look up an interview or music video without having to navigate through tons of unrelated videos on YouTube? Use Google Video. Want to know what that tool looks like that you're supposed to have when putting together a new piece of furniture? Google Image it. Google News is also an incredibly useful feature for news junkies who don't want to go sifting through each and every online edition of their favorite newspapers. Just type in a subject and you'll get the most recently posted articles from various news stories and yes, it was as easy as clicking your mouse.
It only seemed like a matter of time before Google offered a music service that enabled users to look up and listen to songs just as quickly as they can find directions, images, and videos. Well, that time has come. This past October, Google, in partnership with MySpace (with streaming courtesy of iLike), Lala, Rhapsody, and imeem, launched their music service by adding music streams to their search results. In order to make this happen, Google had to acquire licensing deals with EMI, Universal, Warner Music, and Sony Music so that the most current, popular music can be accessed. If a user's tastes lean more towards independent acts, they won't be left out in the cold thanks to iLike and Lala, who have provided a wide array of music from independent artists.
Though this feature is obviously very cool, it's quite limited, and it's no fault of Google's. If music lovers have learned anything in the Internet age, it's that the music industry will fight tooth and nail with anyone they believe to be "stealing" from them. Basically, licensing issues with the record labels involved in the service have made it somewhat difficult for Google's new music service to live up to its full potential. For example, musical search results are limited to the United States, which is obviously very disappointing for the millions and millions of Internet users who live in other countries.
Also quite disappointing -- even for those of us who live in the U.S. and have access to the service -- is the fact that you can't always hear a full version of a song. For the most part, you can hear full length versions of songs, but sometimes if you Google a specific song you'll only be offered a 30 second clip. Why is this?
Apparently this is a very popular question, because you can find out the answer by clicking the "Why not full songs?" link under each song you've searched. According to the message from iLike, "the first time you play the song, it will play in full, but if you play the same song again, it will subsequently play it as a 0:30 second sample clip. If you want to hear the full song many times, you're encouraged to purchase the MP3 using the convenient 'Buy' link." The message goes on to say that for some songs, these short 30 second clips are the only option available because of Google's contract with the record labels. Apparently, this may not always be the case in the future, but it's what we've got to contend with for now.
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