A seemingly minor update that Google is rolling out today should delight music fans. The search giant now includes rich snippets for songs within the results pages when you search for a musician or band.
If this sounds familiar, it's because Google has already implemented rich snippets for things like videos, reviews and event information. This enables people using the search engine to see at a glance whether the pages include the content they're seeking.
Rich snippets are implemented using a special markup schema that defines a few characteristics about the content. As with other rich snippets, site owners can opt to activate these audio clips by utilizing the proper markup when embedding audio tracks into a page. The markup identifies the content as a song and lets the site owner define things like its title, artist and duration.
Google, especially its YouTube subsidiary, has long been used by people to find music. Last year, three of the top ten fastest-rising searches in the world were musical artists (Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry) and the search volume for phrases like "song" and "mp3 download" have grown steadily over the years.
When users encounter a search result containing a rich snippet, they can't listen to the song right from the results page, but can click its title and be taken directly to that track within the original Web page.
Google has partnered with a few music sites to roll out rich audio snippets, including Rhapsody, ReverbNation and MySpace.