It appears that Google might be experimenting with some form of music playback in search results when using its Chrome browser. In a number of incidents a song or lyrics has been searched for and after a short delay the responding audio file plays in the background. When it does so there are no player controls visible nor any other indication that the music is playing, and stopping the music playing sometimes requires not just closing the browser window but exiting Chrome entirely. This appears to be a very early and limited trial – if indeed that is what this is – as it only occurs on a handful of songs and generally cannot be replicated on the same song by different people nor on different devices.
It is an interesting concept but not without its problems, not least of which is that currently music plays regardless of whether audio is being created by other browser windows. The rights situation will be interesting too, though one imagines that if this ever gets rolled out it will utilize 30/60 second previews rather than full tracks.
Search has always been the part of Google’s business that the music industry has most wanted Google to do something with, given that it is the most common starting point for illegal downloads. Whether this is what the labels had in mind is another matter….