Google Blogoscoped

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Google China Music Search Live

Google has released a Music search site for China – and China only, unless you’re using a proxy* to access it. We discovered traces of this a while ago, and the Wall Street Journal also covered Google’s plans before. In China, music searching is one of the existing advantages of competing services like Baidu over Google, but now Google may try to find a more legal, licensed basis for such a site.

The service’s main page shows a search box and a list of top songs and their artists, along with links enabling you to e.g. listen to the song online. (Please note the translations in the screenshots are given as approximations as I had automatic translation help me compile them.)

When starting to enter something in the search box, you’ll get a dropdown box, which can both help auto-complete your query, but also transliterates Pinyin into Chinese characters. (The Google China homepage itself has auto-completion, too.) In the results, you can check several songs and add them to what looks like a song list. It opens in a new window served from Google partner Songs play back without much hassle using Flash, accompanied by an animated ad banner. (And all that legal, apparently; Music 2.0 writes that “authorities and Content Providers can now point to a viable alternative to Baidu’s mp3 search and snap out of their varying degrees of apathy and do something about it. Baidu’s recalcitrant attitude and financial abuse of so-called label partners as it pirates music in broad daylight will inevitably catch up with them now”.)

Instead of streaming the song, you can also download it as MP3 file sometimes. What, no proprietary digital-rights-mangled format? I’m eating a big surprise, as the saying goes... this service is actually uncluttered and useful in finding music. Even the lyrics which you can open in a new window can be (gasp) copied to your clipboard for reuse, something Yahoo Music, for instance, never let you do**. And why not, as there’s enough chance for revenue in the vicinity of such a service, like advertisement or paid ringtones. If not for the fact all non-China users are banned from using this, it’s an almost barrier-free music download site – at the moment, though, the “www” in the site’s address is lying.

[Thanks Xujie and Manoj Nahar!]

*In Firefox, try the following to use a proxy. In the menu open Tools -> Options. Switch to the Advanced tab and in it, the Network tab. Click the Settings button and check “Manual proxy configuration”. Enter into the HTTP Proxy box and click OK below. Now try load Google Music Search. (If this proxy does not work for you try looking for others by searching Google for [china proxies] and similar.)

**Yahoo used an image instead of text for lyrics, among other hurdles built into their service.


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