Yahoo is teaming up with RealNetworks to put music into search. Starting today, Yahoo will provide playable buttons right within its results when you search for artists who have streamable content available. The setup uses the in-browser FoxyTunes Player, which comes from RealNetworks/MTV-owned Rhapsody.
The service isn’t limitless, though: You’ll be able to listen to 25 full-length tracks a month. After that, you’ll be prompted to pay for a Rhapsody streaming subscription. If you turn it down, you’ll only be able to listen to 30-second samples until the start of the next month.
On the whole, the service works surprisingly well. Searching for an available artist brings up a box at the top of the results with play buttons for four popular songs and the option to see more songs. Once you click play, a second player box opens at the bottom of the search results. You can still navigate around the page with the box open and the song playing — it’ll stay at the bottom of the window — but once you click to any other page, the box and the song both go away.
I’m reluctant to say it, but this actually isn’t a horrible idea. It may be one of Yahoo’s first moves that does something to add value into its search product — a novel concept. Will it get people to switch over from Google? Likely not. But it might get them to use Yahoo a handful of times a month for music-specific searching, and that’s at least something.
In any event, it reeks far less of desperation than Microsoft’s “we’ll pay you to use our search engine” idea.