David Alpert explains at the Google Blog:
It may come as no surprise, but I like to search for things on Google. Yep, when I’m looking for something, I always try it on Google first. And sometimes, that thing I’m looking for is music. Many of our users feel the same way, and we get a lot of search traffic on music terms like popular artists and albums.
A few of us decided to try to make the information you get for these searches even better, so we created a music search feature. Now you can search for a popular artist name, like the Beatles or the Pixies, and often Google will show some information about that artist, like cover art, reviews, and links to stores where you can download the track or buy a CD via a link at the top of your web search results page.
We do this sort of thing a lot — adding a bit of special information to results for important searches. For example, we have movie showtimes and stock quotes. The more information we can make easily accessible with a simple search, the better.
Right now the music search feature mostly works for artists popular in the U.S. and a more limited number of artists from other countries, but we plan to expand it to classical music, worldwide artists, and lesser-known performers. Our list of music stores will also grow over time. If you’re a music store (selling downloads, music by subscription, or physical CDs) and would like to be listed, please get in touch.
Every reviewer seems to be trying out obscure groups and songs and I’m no exception. When Google finds them at the main search (like the examples above) it’s great, but not all will be found. In that case, here’s a tip – use http://www.google.com/musicsearch instead and you’re much more likely to have success. Here’s an example:
Searching at the main Google search prompt for The Contours ( http://www.google.com/search?q=the+contours ) doesn’t provide any of the enhanced music information. Using the Music Search entry ( http://www.google.com/musicsearch?q=the+contours ) does.
So how is Google making money off this? Well, hard as it may be to believe, they aren’t. Directly, at least:
Unlike Yahoo Inc., Mountain View, Calif.-based Google has no plans to create a music library of its own, Mayer said. Google also won’t collect a referral fee if its visitors click on the new music section and go on to buy songs from one of the linked libraries.
But Google does stand to profit if the new section spurs more search requests about music because that gives its search engine more opportunities to display ads about the same subject.
Give it a try the next time you are feeling musically minded.