Google Makes Music Play With OneBox, Partners With LaLa, iLike, Labels

Updated: Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is making a play for music money and attention by launching a new way to deliver results for music within search results, using music services LaLa.com and iLike — and a source familiar with the situation says deals with the four major labels through those services. ILike, recently acquired by MySpace, will offer sampling, full track streaming and MP3 purchasing for what we have confirmed is called Google Music OneBox. (That’s not a brand; it’s the description for a certain kind of search result.) Users also will be able to buy tracks directly from Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) or Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) iTunes. The formal announcement is expected next week at an Oct. 28 event LaLa, iLike and “others” are holding at Capitol Studios in LA “to DISCOVER MUSIC!” but reports have been coming fast and furious from TechCrunch, CNET and WSJ about what it is and what it means. For now, Google is sticking with the usual no comment on rumor or speculation. We have confirmed, though that the screenshots posted by TechCrunch are the real deal.

Lost in the shuffle: the concept isn’t new — Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) set up a one-stop music result in search that delivered instant access to songs through RealNetworks’ Rhapsody last year — but, as one person familiar with the idea said to me today, what makes it different is it’s Google. OneBox isn’t a new idea for Google either; the search engine has been grouping certain kinds of results together for years to pull them above the stream. For instance, search for a stock symbol in Google and the results come up in a Google Finance OneBox. Ditto for weather. It’s had a version for music since 2005, as Danny Sullivan notes. The difference for Google this time is the way music and search mix — and the use of outside services on the results page, not just a link back.

As the Journal reported, and we have confirmed, revenue will be shared between the services and the labels, so this isn’t a direct revenue play for Google. Someone familiar with the label perspective said it’s less about the transaction and more about the discovery that can come from the right kind of attention. Google, too, should benefit in a couple of ways: by becoming more appealing to users who appreciate the upgraded discovery and by keeping the labels happy. Down the road, it’s not far fetched to think of the ways YouTube’s music channels could be integrated — or for that matter, Vevo and potentially other services.More to come.