New Google Music Search Could Hurt iTunes

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24 hours after they expanded their mobile mapping service, Google has moved into the music search business with a service that will identify free music.

The new  music search feature lets users identify and play millions of songs for free with an option to buy or rent them from several online music stores.

The service that will give a boost to services that compete with iTunes has been applauded by the music industry who are hopin that  the search feature will direct users to legitimate digital music stores.

“We’re trying to get consumers to interact with some of these more legitimate services,” said Thomas Hesse, president of global digital business for Sony Music Entertainment.

Googlewho has 70% of the global search market rolled out their new service at the Capitol Records building in Hollywood with a  performances by rock groups OneRepublic and Linkin Park.

“We’re not in the music business per se,” said R.J. Pittman, Google’s director of product management. “We don’t license the music nor sell the music directly on Google. We are merely a music search feature.”

But in steering millions of Internet users to its partner sites, Google is indirectly boosting the sites’ abilities to compete with iTunes, which was responsible for 69% of U.S. digital music sales in the first six months of this year, and 35% of all music sales, including physical albums, according to market research firm NPD Group Inc. Amazon, the second-largest player, accounted for 9% of digital music sales and 10% of overall music sales.

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