Yahoo Tests Paid Music Search Engine

By Richard Menta 8/04/05

Yahoo announced today a new search engine designed specifically to mine music on paid download services like iTunes and Napster. Granted, all of these services sell the same set of songs - music almost exlusively from the big four record labels that eschews the music of independents - so it may be more useful for price comparison than anything else. Well, except that everyone pretty much charges the same price.


Then there is the issue that not every service sells the music in compatible formats. iTunes uses FairPlay, MSN uses WMA and Real uses its own proprietary technology. Users who do not purchase music from the same service will run into compatibility issues, constantly rejecting songs from their playlist because only certain ones work on their portable digital music player.

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So what is this search engine good for? Well on a rare occasion you can find a free track in the MP3 format, the only format that "Plays For Sure". Unfortunately, those tunes are from ArtistsDirect and are not MP3 downloads, but MP3 streams that you can't keep.

Such a search engine would be a good idea if consumers had a level playing field with regards to choice of service and price. Right now they don't.

But hey, it's just a test. It will get better as soon as the music industry figures out what it is doing. That may take awhile.

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