Saturday, August 06, 2005

Yahoo!: Audio Search Debut

Audio search, ahoy! Within a few days of my last post on audio search, there comes news of Yahoo! launching it's own audio search engine in beta. The results? Not as much as we want, disappointingly. But before looking at the disappointments let's look at what it has to offer.

Yahoo! has linked with around 18 music providers online and has a database of what content is available with which provider. Search results contain references to these music providers which can make the content available to the users. The results also contain links to other relevant information from Yahoo!'s other services such as image, video and news search. This information is made available on the right hand side if it's available for the search made. A nice touch but I wouldn't be interested in those results if I really am searching for audio here, but nevertheless a nice feature in case you do want it. Going by the popularity of Britney Spears searches made on search engines, people certainly would like to see suggestive images of Britney Spears if they listen to her music I guess, who wouldn't. Ok, deny if you want to.

The engine by default provides links to online music providers where you can buy the music. However, in case you are looking for samples to listen to, before making a decision to buy it, you can go to the "More options" link and narrow the search by selecting the duration or format of the search results. However, there's no option to choose between links to online music store OR samples available on the web in the search results. If you really want samples available on the web, then you'll have to choose one of the formats, to tell the engine to make available only links to files in that format. That means apart from the links to online stores, samples available in all the other formats will also not appear in the results. But that's not what we want, we want to listen to samples in any format before going to an online store to buy it. Even more disappointing is the fact that the search results for samples contain links to the web pages which contained the file. I speak in the past tense because more often than not the links to those files are gone. Moreover, the extra level of clicks and search on the web page, (which might contain hundreds of 'em) only results in more time being spent on visually searching for the correct piece of information we seek (in this case the link to the sample). Sorry, you can't have everything your way. Shrug.

Well, you needn't despair. Singing Fish is still there for it which links to the sample file directly, mercifully. Singing Fish also does not have the problem of only getting links to online stores or a single format in the search results. I know you are still confused about that one... even I am.

Apart from the audio content the search engine can help you find the web for artist's biography and reviews as well. In this department as well, beats Yahoo! in the sheer ease of accessing the biography as well as other recommendations for the artist. That's because the biography, popular songs and other recommendations are directly available in the site's interface instead of pointing to other web pages on the Internet containing them like Yahoo! does. really understands its audience - the music lovers who not only want to know about an artist, they want to know about their most popular songs or albums, as well as other artists in the same genre.

Yahoo! is alien to the concept of measuring popularity of audio content as well as the concept of genres. Sadly, the folks at Yahoo! perhaps think that search for audio is done by only those people who know what music they want, but don't know where to get it. What about the rest of us who are not present in the Western hemisphere to know through word of mouth or other media what is/was good music. I want to listen to tracks which were a raze in the 60's or 70's but I can neither search for any recommendations nor can I gauge the popularity of a song I have never heard about. That is an important part since that saves me a lot of trouble, as well as time in listening to unheard of music, to determine whether I like it. The engine Yahoo! offers is really a stringing together of Yahoo!'s web searching technology along with a database of songs/artists/albums/online music stores.

Another aspect of music does not figure at all. How I wish there was the slightest hint of providing a feature to allow searching for the lyrics of a song. As I pointed out before, lyrics search is an important aspect that we fans out here look for - as this guy pointed out as well on Slashdot. We want it - you can take that as a yes! Till then try lyrics search here.

Sadly, the guys behind this search engine do not understand a music aficionado. Overall, we are still where we were, as far as music search is concerned. No breakthroughs here.


At Thursday, August 18, 2005 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Ashish Chatterjee said...

Yep... Yahoo audio search is at present a waste of time...mostly because it lacks features you mention here... but then I don't understand... Yahoo Launch offers you all of that... i.e. discographies, popular songs, albums, lyrics search... The only thing they Don't offer is strict categorization .... like sixties/80s disco.... but then they have radio stations with such genres!

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