Google's Music Search Engine Quietly Vanishes From The Web

At the end of October 2009, my colleague Jason Kincaid traveled all the way to Hollywood, Los Angeles, for the official unveiling of Google’s new music search initiative by the Internet giant and its partners, Lala, Rhapsody, imeem and MySpace Music / iLike. He interviewed just about everyone involved about the news, and Mike Arrington followed up with a post basically calling out Facebook and Ticketmaster for not acquiring iLike instead of MySpace.

In a blog post, Google said that, going forward, a simple Google web search would enable users to “search and more easily discover millions of songs”. Queries for songs, artists or albums would return search results including links to an audio preview of those songs provided by its music search partners, at least in the United States – for starters.

People were invited to learn more about the exciting new feature on a special landing page.

Fast forward to today: the landing page linked above now redirects to a list of regular Google search features, Apple has acquired and killed Lala, MySpace acquired both imeem and iLike and already killed the former (and is pretty much on life support itself, too).

(On a sidenote, isn’t it sad that neither or lead anywhere anymore?)

In addition, one of the key people behind Google Music Search, Director of Product Management R.J. Pittman, defected to Apple about a year ago.

From what I can gather, searches for popular artists, songs and albums no longer yield search results that come with audio previews even in the United States, as evidenced by a series of spot tests done by some TechCrunchers stateside. Here’s how it used to work:

A tipster pointed out the disappearance of the old Google Music Search landing page to us, which doesn’t necessarily mean it vanished recently, but I’ve searched everywhere for mentions of Google officially or unofficially retiring the service and have been unable to find any reports about it. I wonder if simply nobody noticed it was gone, or that my search skills or simply not what they used to be.

The last update I can find it when SearchEngineLand’s Danny Sullivan spoke with Google spokesperson Jason Freidenfelds about the future of the service and was told that it was firmly tied in with Google’s search group, and that people would continue to develop it even after Apple shut down Lala. That conversation dates back to April 2010, so obviously things have changed somewhere along the way.

One more reason I think things have changed rather recently is because Google linked to its own blog post announcing Music Search back in December 2010.

Now, as I’m sure you’re well aware, Google has bigger plans when it comes to digital music than mere search, so perhaps the link to the former Music Search product landing page was quietly removed to make way for another, more appropriate landing page? Or did someone just quietly pull the plug hoping no one would notice?

I’ve asked Google for comment and will update when I hear back.

Meanwhile, according to Cnet’s Greg Sandoval, Google has begun testing internally its much-anticipated music locker and subscription service , which will simply be named Google Music.

Google had hoped that the service would launch to the public in 2010, but it has failed to sign licensing agreements with copyright holders fast enough to launch a digital music download store and cloud-based locker service for that to happen.

Google may, however, unveil Google Music at its I/O conference in May. As for its loudly-trumpeted-upon-launch music search engine: rest in peace, I guess.