Google Tries Free Music in China

Revolutionary model could help GOOG face down a local rival
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 6, 2008 4:09 PM CST

(Newser) – In an effort to compete with search rival Baidu, Google will join with music companies to offer free music downloads in China. The hometown search engine, which has 60% of the local market to Google’s 25%, has long hosted free searches for unlicensed music downloads, and piracy has largely slain China’s entertainment industry. Google’s new service could satisfy music bigwigs and cut into Baidu’s market domination.

The files, which may go live within weeks, will have watermarks that let labels track the use of their songs, which is valuable for advertising purposes, the Wall Street Journal reports; the companies will earn royalties through revenue-share deals. Google’s tunes will be higher quality than those download-able via Baidu, and will feature a package of related search options.