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Google to blend search, music in One Box

The search engine is taking a step into digital tunes with a new twist via One Box for music, but Google will not be selling downloads or offering subscriptions.

Google will soon launch a music initiative, which the company at this point is calling a One Box for music, to offer song previews, artist bios, graphics, and video.

The search engine, however, will not be selling downloads or offering subscriptions.

TechCrunch reported on Tuesday night that Google is entering the music business but said the search engine would launch a music service. That's not really what the One Box for music is, said sources familiar with the deal.

Greg Sandoval/CNET

The music initiative, which is expected to be announced sometime next week, will offer people a means to buy songs by featuring links to music sites Lala and iLike, according to the sources. All four of the top record companies are on board, the sources said.

The initiative is coming out of Google Search and is designed to organize everything a music fan may need when searching online for a favorite artist, the sources said.

The way One Box will work is that a person who keys in the names U2 or Coldplay, for example, will find a thumbnail photo of the artists, background information, as well as a listing of the music that they can preview, according to the sources.

Stephen Shankland, my colleague at CNET News, tells me that One Box is the term Google uses to describe a "gussied up search engine result." The company "packages stuff up into a nice little container that's got more than a line of blue hyperlinked text," he said.

There are One Box results for video, financial information, and the weather. The kind of results for this version of a One Box for music would appear to a fuller offering.

A Google representative said Wednesday: "We don't comment on rumor or speculation."

Regardless, the idea sounds like an important step into music for Google and should certainly boost the prospects of Lala and iLike, which was recently acquired by MySpace.

Google has an opportunity to grab music fans who may be looking for information on artists before they land on any of the top music services. It gives the search engine an opportunity to harness some of this traffic as well as steer it in the direction of Google's choice.

Update 8:09 a.m. PDT: Comment added from Google and more details added throughout.

Correction at 7:55 a.m. PDT: An earlier version incorrectly stated who would compensate the labels. Lala and iLike will pay them, according to sources.