Google’s The Music OneBox - MusicNSW

Google is pretty much the yardstick of the internet. Its seach engine capabilities are far beyond any other (not to mention we hear they have masseuses and chefs onsite at Google HQ), so it was only a matter of time until they conquered music. Affiliating with Myspace and LaLa, Google have launched a new music strategy to its US market which will push legal music services over illegal and unlicenced portals.

In the US Google’s ‘The Music OneBox’ will link to Rhapsody, imeem and Pandora. The engine will enable you to search by artist name, album and song title to locate music, with the results showing up in a Google-branded music player with purchase links included.

Lyrics based search engine Gracenote has also been integrated into The Music OncBox, in case you don’t know the artist name or song title. After you’ve found what you’re looking for you can stream the track in full for the first time and then in 30 second blocks for each subsequent stream. Links to purchase the music will still be prominent throughout the service.

The main benefits of this service are that they will push legal music offerings over illegal downloading. It is expected that Goolge will roll this service out internationally – eventually to hit Australian shores.

Coupled with the seamless search/purchase functionality, OneBox comes with a few of headaches for independent artists.

When a fan searches for a band, the search listing (or ranking) that shows up in OneBox will automatically have it’s affiliate online music partners at the top, whilst the band’s website will be further down the list.

Industry commentators argue that OneBox servces to undo a few things the internet has done for artists – that is, creating a level playing field in which indie artists compete with major labels across the globe. By giving online retails preference, fans are directed toward online retail sites, not neccessarily where the band wants them to go.

Google’s new service is based on a ‘per download’ model, where music fans will pay for each song they want. This model has been employed over the past ten years with little success. Critics argue that the industry should move to a subscription based model in which fans can download however many songs they want, as long as they pay a subscription fee. This is the recent trend with sites such as Lastfm and spotify.

The Music OneBox is yet to hit Australia, so your band website is still the most important source of information for your fans. Pushing legal offerings of your music on your site will hopefully deter fans to illegally download your content. The principles of Google’s music strategy follow this, but it is still expected to take alot of backlash from customers and musicians with the ‘pay per download’ model it has chosen.