Pages will include methods to buy songs

Google Inc. will launch music search pages next week and include ways for consumers to buy songs for download, according to people familiar with the matter.

The music pages will package images of musicians and bands, album artwork, links to news, lyrics and song previews, along with a way to buy songs, they said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the deal before next Wednesday’s announcement.

The package is similar to how companies get individual pages for Google’s financial news service.

Song previews and sales will be provided by online music retailer Lala and iLike, a music recommendation application bought by News Corp.’s MySpace this month. Song previews will appear in Lala or iLike online music players, and users won’t have to navigate away from the search results page.

The effort marks a new way for Google and the recording companies to promote alternatives to Apple Inc.’s iTunes, the leader in song downloads.

Major recording companies — including Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp. and EMI Group PLC — pitched the idea to Google a year ago and are cooperating with the project, according to one person.

They will benefit by sharing revenue from song sales with Lala and iLike, while making the discovery, experimentation and buying process simple for people who use Google to search for music.

Although Google won’t get a share of song sales, it will collect revenue from advertising that will be shown with the search results, according to the people familiar with the plans.

The development comes as compact disc sales continue to plummet even as sales of individual song downloads are on the rise.

Overall music sales have slid nationwide in seven of the past eight years and recording companies are searching for new ways to tap audiences online and collect revenue from advertising, licensing and downloads.

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