Last week we reported on Google’s new music discovery features. The Google music search endeavor is partnership between Google, MySpace, Lala, and several others to make music search and discovery a primary feature of the Google experience.
In fact, Google music search does more than just return a few track listings; it offers up audio streaming, one-click purchase options from iLike and Lala, and now even exclusive content from artists.
Google music search has broad implications for the music space, and in this post we’ll explore three of the most significant implications around a music search service powered by Google, and dissect how some of the industry’s current heavy hitters could be in for a wake up call.
1. iTunes: Market Share Will Decline
It’s been a process years in the making, but Apple’s iTunes store, with the help of the ubiquitous iPod and the hot iPhone, has become the destination for not only buying music but also for measuring the success of songs, albums, and artists.
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some of the staggering statistics. Earlier this summer, the NPD Group found that songs purchased from the iTunes marketplace now account for 25% of the total US music market, which includes both hard and soft copies. CNET also reported that “for the first half of 2009, iTunes itself snagged a 69 percent share of the overall digital music arena, trailed far behind by Amazon.com with 8 percent.”
With a 69% hold over the digital music market, iTunes is sitting pretty, but Apple’s music business is far from secure in being the undisputed victor in future years. The new music search features in Google aren’t some separate product that searchers have to track down, but instead offer instantaneous music discovery that works without extra thought or calculation. The reality is that music discovery is built into the search experience for each and every search, and those results are featured prominently at the top of the page, instead of buried at the bottom like Social Search.
Googlers already search for songs, artists, and lyrics en masse, but the immediate click-to-listen and buy options that Google now provides could very well make them less likely to take the extra step back over to iTunes. Here’s why: music search results include streaming audio tracks, powered by MySpace, who don’t forget, owns iLike, and by Lala. You’ll also notice that that Lala and iLike’s download stores, and not iTunes, are the two click-to-buy options. Essentially what’s happening is that Google, the primary online starting point for the masses, is now directing you to purchase your music from iLike or Lala (and taking a cut of the purchase price).
The iLike and Lala download stores both just got some major Google juice, and that’s a problem for Apple’s iTunes, who simply can’t compete with Google on search as it pertains to music discovery. iTunes won’t falter immediately, but Google, MySpace, and Lala have the opportunity to put a dent into iTunes’ once impenetrable stronghold over digital music downloads.
2. Google: This Generation’s Billboard
Billboard’s top 100 music charts are still important indicators of what’s hot in the music space, but having an album or song on iTunes’ top charts is becoming even more important for artists who want to remain relevant and popular in the eyes of younger audiences.
Google’s new play in the music space puts them in a prime position to not only sell music, but to also dissect music trends, which could make them this generation’s Billboard.
Think of all the data that Google already has around music search, combine that with their growing knowledge of what searchers are streaming on Google, and what they then go on to buy, and you have a data set that could be leveraged for insightful music industry analysis.
We could easily see Google launching a music trends product that would match the style of Google Trends, and indicate the highest frequency music searches, highlight related searches, and attempt to identify news and blog posts influencing the trends. They could also potentially tie in music sales and online streams, for a full perspective of what’s happening in the music milieu.
3. Myspace: Relevant Once Again
Myspace is on a fast track to becoming the web’s biggest joke. Once at the height of social media glory, they’re now Facebook’s ugly sister and everyone knows it, especially now that their US traffic has fallen off a cliff.
As tempting as it may be to push MySpace off into the waters of obscurity, we think this cruise ship-sized social network may have avoided becoming the online Titanic with their recent moves in the music space.
Let’s start by granting Facebook the social network gold medal. They’ve won that competition. But, MySpace is slowly repositioning themselves as the music destination, and the strategy just might pay off with their significant role in Google’s music service. Already a great resource for bands, MySpace now has a very excellent music video product, and their own music download store, courtesy of the iLike buy, with Google as their sales force.
MySpace, with Google’s blessing, is well on their way to becoming the site that mainstream web audiences associate with online music. Given that Facebook is nowhere to be found in Google’s music picture, MySpace could be headed towards victory in a new genre.
Reviews: Facebook, Google, MySpace, iStockphoto