The Googleverse keeps spinning and expanding ever larger. Today while talking with Paul Connolly, I did a quick search on Google for “Jane Siberry”. The top result showed a thumbnail photo of Jane, a list of her albums and songs and a link to “more musical results for jane siberry.” Having never seen this style of link before, I clicked through and discovered Google Music.
Google Music gives a discography, track listing, and snippets of lyrics (with links to the full lyrics off-site, no doubt to cleverly side-step RIAA and copyright issues). On at least some albums they also include ‘buy album’ links with direct links to purchase the music from one of several online retailers. I’ve seen iTunes, Sony Connect, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, ArtistDirect.com, Amazon, MSN Direct and CD Universe all offered, depending on the album. And sometimes (but not always) you can see at a glance who has the best price.
Google has done a nice job of connecting to their other services, including Google News, Google Groups and Google Images, but the artist data is far from complete. Some artists are missing, or their discography is incomplete.
Google Music doesn’t have any obvious iTunes-killer quality. They seem content to index all the reviews, artwork, prices and other info that’s already out there and just collect it in a single place. There are no social features such as Last.fm, nor are there suggestions (“if you like Jane Siberry, you might also like…”). And the interface is true to Google’s typical plain-jane, minimalist style. Also notably missing is the ability to actually listen to tracks. For that, you’ll still have to visit one of the online retailers.
I liked the fact that Google Music draws from a wide range of sites, exposing views that I might not otherwise get at a single site (particularly for album reviews). But at the same time, it Google Music doesn’t distinguish the authority of the content.
What’s the bottom line with Google Music? Ultimately it’s a finely-tuned vehicle for selling and serving contextual text advertising. If they added a social network aspect, allowing me to specify my favorite artists and genres and discover related music, I might get excited. For now, it’s merely interesting.