Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music

August 6, 2008

Google Finally Launches MP3 Search in China

Filed under: Music Industry — maths @ 4:04 am

So finally, the much talked about Google MP3 Search service is here at www.google.cn/music
And it’s certainly game on as they take on Baidu’s very illegal mp3 search with legal links from its search results provided by local music service Top 100.cn for free streaming, free mp3 downloads and lyrics supported by advertising revenue, and paid Caller RingBack Tones (CRBT) via China Mobile - with rights being cleared by most major labels (with probably one major holdout), publishers and a number of domestic labels for mainly Chinese music.

Inevitably the talk is going to be about whether this is going to be a game changer or not.

But first a quick preview of the site for the benefit of international readers as Google Music Search is inaccessible outside of China

Surprisingly, Google’s famed clean page lines have been sacrificed for the music search home page, for which charts are shown with the user being able to choose charts by album, artist or song.

Google Music Search Home Page
Downloads are in 192kbps DRM-free mp3 format:
Streams are provided via a pop-up Flash player window:
Streaming Music Player
Lyrics are shown in a pop up window:

Lyrics
Currently, most of the CRBT links are disabled as deals with China Mobile have yet to be sorted out.

CRBT
Also, for some like No.1 artist Jay Chou and international artists , it seems that Top100.cn has yet to obtain free streaming & download rights.
 Jay Chou SearchU2 Search
Music Search Results

For a start, this free ad-supported mp3 download service is invariably more impressive than similar international services like We7 and Spiral Frog as it is DRM-free and users can keep the downloaded mp3s forever while being able to transfer it to portable devices without any restrictions.

But the battle lines for this service are instead drawn in China as Google squares off with Baidu who have made a fortune from illegal mp3 search which accounts for as much as 30% of its traffic. Where Baidu has been greedily keeping all of its advertising revenue with the exception of the recent knee-jerk attempt to share revenue with a few selected labels, Google will be sharing advertising revenue - traffic being tracked via watermarking - with all content providers via Top 100, and that is already a plus point in favor of Google.

On the other hand, as many international analysts will inevitably fall over themselves to fawn over and laud Google’s mp3 search service from a distance, it has to be recognized that it is far from being a cakewalk for Google. Their partner Top 100 still has to convince quite a few more labels and artists to join the service without which, users will consider this an incomplete service not worth switching over from Baidu.

Inertia and force of habit may also result in users remaining with the Baidu mp3 service. It has to be noted that there are other music search engines in China - all illegal - but none have been able to make a dent on Baidu’s lead and the manner of its offering. As one local blogger pointed out, even Google’s very naming of its service URL as www.google.cn/music might be slightly flawed as Chinese users have become conditioned to the synonymity of “mp3″ with music in the naming of the URL. Citing the example of the rival music search engine Sogou, which introduced its service as d.sogou.com it then had to beat a hasty retreat to the current mp3.sogou.com URL.

With the launch of this service, Top100.cn’s existing paid DRM enabled download service will cease and will be replaced by the service described here. It has to be noted that Top100’s service has been mainly limited to low common denominator fare and the Google MP3 Search service will likely propagate more of the same in direct competition with Baidu. Already, the Google chart service seems to be under the tyranny of major label fodder, and for the many other artists and independent labels who may possibly be simply making up the numbers by languishing in the basement of this service, it is certainly in their interests to explore other options and models.

Where this will probably be a game-changer is that the 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, and their efforts to finally reconcile with content owners will probably be too late.

Still, there is all to do as both Top100.cn and Google have not had any prior success in music distribution but by intent, a warning shot has been fired at Baidu.

20 Comments »

  1. Interesting, the UI is a virtual clone of Baidu’s mp3 search.

    August 6, 2008 @ 9:38 pm

    Comment by Jake — August 6, 2008 @ 9:38 am

  2. […] 6 Aug, 2008 Top 100 and Google launch legal mp3 […]

    Pingback by Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music » Yao Ming’s Top100.cn - Pirate digital music service in disguise? — August 6, 2008 @ 6:02 pm

  3. […] doesn’t mean it’s not monetizable, as Google hopes to prove. Today the company launched a new music search service that allows Internet users in China to legally download music — for free. Developed in […]

    Pingback by Google Offers (Falun Gong) Free Music Search in China | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD

    Comment by Digtal Daily — August 7, 2008 @ 7:49 am

  4. Great recap. After searching for some more alternative music, I’m impressed with the breadth of content. How interested do you think Top100 will be in signing up smaller, independent labels?

    Comment by Sean — August 7, 2008 @ 10:13 am

  5. […] Infelizmente, o site apenas se encontra disponível aos internautas chineses mas tanto o Music 2.0 como o Wall Street Journal têm imagens. Os utilizadores podem efectuar as pesquisas usando como […]

    Pingback by Google oferece MP3 a 192 Kbps aos chineses | Remixtures

    Comment by Remixtures — August 7, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

  6. […] Google’s Cool New Music Search Has One Catch I really like the idea of Google’s new MP3 Search feature, which lets you scour the Web for songs in MP3 format, and then download them legally, thanks to a deal that Google struck with a music licensing fee. I’d probably be using it now, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s only available in China. (Just for kicks, I tried going to www.google.cn/music and got a message which I assume is “Get the heck out of here” in Mandarin.) Google says the new engine is an experiment; presumably it’s launching in China because Baidu, Google’s biggest competitor there, does very well with its not-so-legal music search. I’d love to think that Google is contemplating rolling out something similar stateside, though. Read more at: PC World, Music 2.0 […]

    Pingback by Gulp! I Shop at Barnes & Noble and Eat at Boston Market | Technologizer

    Comment by Technologizer — August 7, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

  7. Google China likes to be a copycat

    Comment by Anonymous

    Comment by Anonymous — August 7, 2008 @ 1:46 pm

  8. Quote Google China President Kai-fu Lee: “The Internet industry should by no means stand in the opposite camp against the music industry,”

    Our vision: Take the Darwinist approach; adapt and you will survive.
    So instead of resisting change and become extinct you want to embrace change.

    People are going to share music, so give them something to share!
    (TribeofNoise.com)

    Comment by Hessel van Oorschot — August 7, 2008 @ 7:48 pm

  9. The irony of some comments here accusing Google of copying Baidu. Wasn’t Baidu’s existence and look and feel a clone of Google in the first place?

    Comment by Lone McClone — August 8, 2008 @ 8:18 am

  10. @Sean, Google MP3 Search and Top100.cn seem to be catered for big label music only, and smaller, independent labels will be there only to make up the numbers. As it is an advertising revenue model, there is every likelihood that the majors will not only ask but be given a disproportionate share of the ad revenue. This is how it works with a lot of the ad revenue share sites and in some, like YouTube, major labels even get a share of the company! The independent labels will inevitably be fucked in such a model, hence the emergence of Merlin, the coalition of independent labels in dealing with the likes of YouTube and last.fm

    Comment by The Man — August 8, 2008 @ 12:36 pm

  11. […] look and feel of the Web site has received positive reviews. Music can be searched for by artist, song, or album. The site also includes artist information and […]

    Pingback by Google Partners with Top 100.cn and Music Labels to Offer Free and Legal Music Downloads in China

    Comment by Atelier — August 8, 2008 @ 3:12 pm

  12. […] 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 […]

    Pingback by Google China Music Search Live | bFeed

    Comment by bFeed — August 10, 2008 @ 2:22 pm

  13. […] post on the Music 2.0 blog mentions that Google has launched a legal MP3 (music) search service in China under the URL […]

    Pingback by Google Launches MP3 Search In China | AccuraCast Search Daily News

    Comment by AccuraCast — August 13, 2008 @ 5:05 pm

  14. who’s copycat who…?

    Comment by tunes — September 4, 2008 @ 5:11 am

  15. In China no way another fail effort to curb piracy. Once they have the upper hand in downloading music they will burn those things and sell to ASEAN countries.

    Comment by musicobsession — October 2, 2008 @ 4:01 pm

  16. The important thing here is that Google will probably get a legal foot in the door. As the competition Google has the money, experience and some recognition to help it out in a competetive market.

    Comment by Losille — March 23, 2009 @ 2:59 pm

  17. […] contracts with the music industry. Screenshots for non-Chinese readers have been made available by Music 2.0. It looks pretty slick, with lyrics, a flash player, upsell of ringback […]

    Pingback by Google China Launches a Free Music Service. March 30 2009: A Day To Remember. « Mobile, Music, Marketing, Social Media — April 1, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

  18. […] contracts with the music industry. Screenshots for non-Chinese readers have been made available by Music 2.0. It looks pretty slick, with lyrics, a flash player, upsell of ringback tones. Tracks are DRM free […]

    Pingback by Google China Launches a Free Music Service. March 30 2009: A Day To Remember. « Music Industry Trends, Social Media, Mobile — April 4, 2009 @ 11:33 pm

  19. awesome, one step closer to taking over the world

    Comment by Chance Mandate — August 3, 2009 @ 4:37 am

  20. […] collecting any payment from individual customers. They have decided that they will give all their music away for free via Google China for a nice little advance payment. Going by their past miscalculations and their poor track record […]

    Pingback by Music 2.0 - Exploring Chaos in Digital Music » Western Music Piracy in China - the Major Labels’ role — October 2, 2009 @ 7:43 pm

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