updated 11:35 am EDT, Mon March 30, 2009
Google offers free songs
report maintains that compared to Baidu, Google has not offered high quality legal music downloads, which hurt its popularity. Google will share its advertising revenue with the music labels to make downloads legal and keep artists happy. The brand-new service so far offers 350,000 tracks from Chinese and foreign artists, although this is expected to jump to 1.1 million songs over the next few months.
Artists under the Sony, Warner, EMI and Universal labels will be represented, though no plans to offer a similar service outside of China is planned, according to Google's greater China president Lee Kai-Fu. Google hopes to attract illegal file downloaders as its service will offer music of higher quality. Users will be able to search for music by artist and song name as well as by other criteria such as "beat" and "instrumentality."
The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) estimates more than 99 percent of the music in China is pirated, with the $76 million legitimate business accounting for less than 1 percent of global recorded music sales. Companies like Apple so far don't offer music in the country.
Google is the top search engine worldwide, but Baidu has a 60 percent market share in China and more than doubles Google's local share.