AUSTIN, TX — My fellow music lovers, we're finally getting a search engine dedicated to our obsession. Yes, you can learn about Chance The Rapper on Google, but if you search by his name, "Chance" you also get information about a Hulu series of the same name.
From here on out, though, I'll be using a new music search from Qwant, a French search engine that launched in 2013. Revealed here at SXSW, Qwant Music is coming out of beta this summer and finds everything you want to know about music, as well as stuff you didn't know you needed.
Qwant's chairman and co-founder Éric Léandri walked me through the beta version of Qwant Music this morning, starting with a search on the artist Seal. Not only did the results not feature any Antarctic wildlife, but Léandri noted that Qwant's database is more complete than what you find elsewhere.
Further, Qwant music gives you everything you'd expect on Google: news stories, music videos, photos and all of their social media posts. Oh, and you know how Genius is a great way to learn more about lyrics? Qwant's got a lyrics search tool that made my jaw drop. Not only can you search for every song that features a specific word or phrase, but an interactive chart shows you a breakdown of the emotions that are connected to those words in those songs.
How is Qwant pulling off all this magic? Léandri stated it starts with the basics, "we cull the whole web, we index it and then we use AI and technology to refine those results." Then, Qwant adds tools also using tools from IRCAM (the Institute for Research and Coordination in Acoustics/Music in France), which Léandri called "the MIT of music."
So, when you're listening to a song via any of the connected services (Qwant links to all the major platforms, including Spotify for those in the states and Deezer for those elsewhere), you can see charts that breakdown the genres of music in a song, as well as identifiable moods in the music. Naturally, it uses this data to recommend similar music you might like.
The AI and tech tools in Qwant are myriad, and my favorite is its voice identification technology, which is getting integrated with its video search. This way, you can search for more than just Kendrick Lamar's music videos, but find clips where he's interviewed, because it can spot his voice
Léandri also told me that Qwant is asking users for feedback of the beta version, because it needs direct responses. That's because privacy is a core component of Qwant's DNA, as it doesn't track data by users. So, not only is Qwant releasing extensions for Chrome, but it's also building a Firefox plugin, for those with similar privacy preferences.
Want to try the beta version of Qwant Music for yourself? It's here.