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Google Sings a New Search Tune

Google has announced an improved music search capability today that it said would help users discover "millions of songs" on the Web.

Now when you enter a music-related query for a song, artist or album, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) search results will include links to audio previews courtesy of Google partner MySpace (and its recently acquired music recommendation service iLike or another partner music site, Lala. When you click on a music search result, the audio preview will be directly available to play.

Google also said users will be able to find, or at least have a good chance of finding, songs they can't remember the name of by entering a line or two of the lyrics. And even if you don't know precisely what you want to hear, Google is adding music discovery features. The company announced it's partnered with Pandora, imeem and Rhapsody to include links to their sites where users can also find music based on search queries.

As is its custom, Google made the announcement in a blog post late Wednesday that includes a brief video explaining the new music features.

The news comes at a time of continued booming iTunes sales. Also, the online ad and search marketing firm Experian Hitwise released figures tracking music-related activities on Google.

Of the top 1000 search terms that took place on Google last week, the firm said six percent were music-related (includes bands, music services and content). Google was also the top referral Web site in the Music category accounting for nearly 30 percent of the total traffic to the category last week, 5 times more than 2nd ranked Yahoo Search and 6.3 times more than MySpace.

Experian Hitwise also reports that last week, 15 percent of the clicks from the search term portfolio of Music that includes the names of over 900 band and artist names resulted in a visit to a Google property, especially YouTube, among the Top 10 Web sites to receive traffic.

Google rival Yahoo (NASDAQ: YHOO) was quick to post a blog in the wake of Google's announcement, highlighting its own work in enhancing music-related searches, including a partnership with Rhapsody last year and the launch of its music player, FoxyPlayer.