Music fans are about to get two new ways to find and sample songs on the Web, as Google and Facebook introduce new features on their services.
Google, the search giant, plans to announce a music initiative at an event it will hold at the Capitol Records building in Hollywood next Wednesday, according to three people briefed on the details, who asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about the service before it was announced.
The service will give users a more efficient way to find, learn about and sample music after they search for information about bands, albums or songs, said a person who has seen an early demonstration.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, will not host any music, nor has it forged any new relationships with the major music labels. But it has struck deals with several streaming music services to let people easily sample music directly from the search engine.
Through relationships with streaming music sites, like Lala, Imeem and the MySpace division iLike, users wanting to sample a song will be presented with a pop-up box from one of the music partners that will play at least a 30-second sample, and in some cases, the whole song.
Neither Google nor its new partners would comment on the initiative. But an invitation to an event in Los Angeles, hosted by iLike, Lala and others, was sent out early Wednesday morning to reporters.
Google is not alone wading into the music business. The social network Facebook, which has been toying with bringing music to its site for at least a year, will also take its first step by integrating Lala into its popular gift store, according to Brandee Barker, a Facebook spokeswoman.
Currently the Facebook gift store is stocked with playful images like birthday cakes and dogs. People buy these images for a dollar, using 10-cent credits they must purchase with a credit card. Then they can post these graphics to the profile pages of their friends. Facebook does not disclose revenue from its gift store, but it is believed to be a small portion of its overall revenue.
Over the summer, Facebook began limited tests allowing companies like American Greetings and JibJab, a humor site, to add their virtual wares, like birthday videos, to the gift store. Facebook, based in Palo Alto, Calif., will gradually roll out the gift store to users in the next few weeks.
Music from Lala will be part of that effort, said John Kuch, a Lala spokesman. The service will work for Facebok users in the United States only.
There will be two ways to buy songs: For 10 cents, or one Facebook credit, users can buy Web songs that can be played by the recipient online in perpetuity. Or they can pay full price, probably a dollar or 10 credits, then download the song and transfer it to a music player.
Facebook sees the gift store as a way to obtain the credit card numbers of more customers and develop a one-click payment mechanism that third-party developers can later use to sell virtual goods on the applications they are creating for the site.