Generating considerably less fanfare than Yahoo’s new homepage this morning: Yahoo’s new music strategy. That’s because Yahoo’s music business, once a core part of the company, has been stripped down considerably in recent years. And while the company’s newest offering isn’t a game- changer, it’s pretty interesting. And unlike the new homepage, it’s available to all Yahoo (YHOO) users right now.
Here’s how it works: Using Yahoo search, type in the name of an artist. If it’s one of the 10,000 or so Yahoo is working with at launch, you’ll get a results page that looks like this:
The crucial feature here is a player, created by Yahoo, with music provided by RealNetwork’s Rhapsody, that instantly lets users listen to the artist’s songs, in their entirety, for free. We’ve been playing with it a bunch this morning, and it’s quite a bit of fun.
Free streaming music is increasingly becoming the standard on the Web, and it will be the foundation of MySpace’s coming-one-of-these-days new music site. And Yahoo really isn’t even trying to compete with stand-alone music sites here — Rhapsody’s player only allows you to listen to 25 songs a month for free before it requires you to sign up for a subscription.
But this is a cheap way for Yahoo to beef up its search results (free, actually — in fact Rhapsody pays Yahoo for a bounty for each subscriber it signs up) and keep users on the site that much longer. And it shows you where Yahoo is going with its music business in general.
Next month Yahoo will take it a step further, opening up its music pages to widget/apps from other services, including iTunes (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN). MySpace Music may eventually join the mix, Yahoo Music head Michael Spiegelman tells us. All of them will follow the same model, which Yahoo is now introducing throughout its site: The outsiders get a bit of Yahoo’s valuable real estate to promote their stuff, and Yahoo gets more stuff to sell ads around. This might be a bit depressing to those who remember when Yahoo was a real player in music, but this makes sense to us: If you’re not in the business of selling iPods, figuring out digital music is back-breaking work. Best to let other people do the heavy lifting for you.
See Also: MySpace Music Launch Delayed?
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