Google has lifted the lid on a streaming music service called Music Search. Frankly described as a "trial", it finds and streams Bollywood music - full track streams are hosted by two third parties.
But what about YouTube, you ask? Google has the world's most popular jukebox in the shape of YouTube; but almost all of the material was user-contributed, and licenses don't cover much of the repertoire it hosts. Nor is the new offering the first licensed Google Music Service. But it is the first licensed service available world wide.
Last March Google struck a deal with the major labels in China and offerered free MP3 downloads to try and challenge the dominance of Baidu. Baidu's free music allowed it to capture 70 per cent of the search market.
You can read more about Google Music India here.
The service already shows some of the pitfalls in letting software engineers loose on a music catalogue. Much of the metadata needed to provide a high quality service is incomplete or missing.
Take for example the legendary RD Burman - the most popular Bollywood composer and the best known worldwide for his incredibly inventive arrangements. Searches for "RD Burman" and "Rahil Dev Burman" will produce different results.
(Here's an example of Burman via YouTube - a song not available on the official Music Search India pages.).
Google already has a very clever piece of infrastructure for managing the supply side. When a user uploads a movie with a piece of music to YouTube, it can be identified and then replaced by a superior quality version.
Google has thus built up an enormous pile of master rights and performance rights. It's currently negotiating the licences. ®