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Yahoo Debuts Audio Search

Yahoo's musical rotation is about to get some serious airtime now that the company is testing a new search-engine feature that can sift through millions of songs offered by various Internet music services.

The free service allows users to peruse a list of 50 million music, voice and other files for free.

"Yahoo Audio Search complements music services, such as Yahoo Music Unlimited and other third-party services by providing consumers access to an extensive array of other audio-related content such as podcasts, spoken word and artist Web sites," John Thrall, head of multi-media search engineering at Yahoo, said in a statement.

The specialty engine will let users request an individual song or artist from 16 different services, including big players iTunes Music Store, Napster, Rhapsody and Yahoo's own Music Unlimited, the company said.

The audio search provides access to audio interviews and other audio-related information, including music videos, album reviews and artist images and Web sites, according to the company.

But perhaps most important to the core audience is the beta makes Yahoo Audio the first to access songs featured on most major music download sites.

"By offering a single search path across multiple content sources, Yahoo has made it easier for consumers to find podcasts, music or other audio files in one place," Su Li Walker, an analyst with Yankee Group, said.

The search index includes content from the Web and Yahoo's Network properties, such as Yahoo Music, as well as partnerships with mainstream and independent providers, such as eMusic, GarageBand.com, Napster and RealNetworks' Rhapsody, said the search giant.

"With Yahoo Audio Search, users have a starting point for finding all audio-related content available on the Web making it easy for users to find, use, share and expand their knowledge of audio-related content," Thrall said.

In addition, Yahoo Audio Search enables independent publishers to submit content to the index through Media Really Simple Syndication (Media RSS), providing users with open access to original and timely audio content, according to the company.

"By further enhancing the search experience with personalization tools, Yahoo is delivering an innovative model for consumers to use the Web to find and listen to audio files of their choice," Walker said.