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Google Music Fires Shot Over iTunes’ Bow…

London Times:

Google’s announcement will be seen as a direct challenge to Apple’s iTunes, the download store that has become the world’s leading digital music retailer….Although iTunes currently offers over 11 million songs, it requires the installation of free software and the opening of an account to function. If Google is successful in marrying its normal ease of search to music retailing, it could take a slice out of Apple’s business.

New York Times:

Google users who put the name of a song into the search engine will get, as the top result, information about the musician and an opportunity to stream the song from one of two services, Lala and MySpace Music. People who click on that link will, in most cases, get a pop-up window that allows them to play the full song once, for free, along with a link to buy the song….Entering an album name or band name into Google yields similar free listening opportunities.

The service could significantly change how people look for music online. Music searches on Google, heretofore, have typically generated links to Wikipedia, random ad-filled lyrics sites and, in some cases, YouTube videos. But it usually took a few hops across the Web to actually sample a song. Not anymore. (It will be interesting to see, in this new environment, whether the music labels are truly comfortable with allowing all these free streams on Google.)

Los Angeles Times:

One of the more enticing new features is the ability to find a song for free streaming based on a lyrical query alone. MySpace and will provide the music, and search results will include album art and a special Google-branded player….The player will come with a “buy” button. The user will purchase the music from the online retailer providing the stream. Thanks to Google licensing Gracenotes lyrics, Billboard also reports that a search for lyrics will now direct users to an authorized database, allowing users to stream or buy a track.