Google Gets into Musical Search

When I first read Google’s announcement that it was going to make it easier for users to find musical results, I must admit I ranted a bit. I can’t stand that everyone and their little cat Francis is offering music/video search, and yet I still can’t find a decent podcast search. (iTunes’ is imho the best, though in this case I think I mean “less bad.”)

So anyway. Google announced at the end of October that it has partnered with MySpace and Lala to make it easier to find song or album or artist information. Google has also partnered with Pandora, imeem, and Rhapsody to provide pointers to related music. This isn’t the first time that Google has gotten into music search, but this version looks more integrated with the regular search.

Just do your music search from the regular Web search. Google’s music search did fine with Venus Hum and Hush Sound, but didn’t find anything when I searched for Bonobo, even after I prefaced it to DJ Bonobo. So what kind of data do you get with Google’s music search? Let’s look at an example search for Chris Joss. Do a regular search for Chris Joss and you’ll get this at the top of your search results:

Google Music Results

In this case you get a shot of an album cover (though not a shot of a recent album cover) and links to songs. Clicking on a song will give you a popup window to play the song via lala. Links to other sites will give more information about the artist; a link to Pandora, for example, opens up the artist’s information page.

Google’s music search also allows you to search music lyrics and, theoretically, get the right song. A couple of the searches I tried didn’t work, and a couple of them did. Searching for Won’t you carry me home did not find the song from Hush Sound. Searching for You are a runner and I am my father’s son did not show the song from Wolf Parade (though it did show up in the search results.) Shortening the search to I am my father’s son found a song from Dan Hill. I wondered how Google’s music would handle covers, so I searched for heard my bulldog bark. Google did return a song, but it was Stagger Lee by Lloyd Price, while I was thinking about the version by Professor Longhair. (Which Google of course has no way of knowing, and I realize there are lots and lots of covers of Stagger Lee.)

For the most part I found that the artist search worked better than the lyrics search, though I occasionally accidentally confused Google into not giving me any artist search results (Hush Sound got the artist, Hush Sounds didn’t.) The search won’t find everything — a search for Floyd Red Crow didn’t find anything, and neither did searching for David Gordon or Steve Gordon. (Strangely, searching for David and Steve Gordon did get me a musical result.) I will probably not be able to shelve the tricks I’ve developed for finding artists and lyrics using Google’s regular search, but Google’s new music feature will be a help, especially when I want to explore music.

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