Update: YouTube's Global Head of Music, Lyor Cohen, provided this comment on the new Search feature: "Google and YouTube's goal is to support and empower artists across the board. Giving artists the ability to manage how they show up on Google when fans are searching for information is critical, so I'm really pleased to see this new feature be made available to artists worldwide." End of update.
Google has today announced musicians will now be able to more directly connect with their fans through the use of Google Search. Specifically, when a user now searches for an artist the results will highlight direct links to posts from the artist. Whether these are updates on tour dates, new videos, or pretty much anything else that has come from directly the artist.
Results will be shown as part of the artist's Knowledge Panel and this is where the first caveat comes in as this latest feature is only available to artists that have a Knowledge Panel in the first place. While that is likely to account for a majority of well-known artists, it might not be the case for new and emerging, or local artists. The second caveat is the artist has to firstly be verified by Google for their comments, messages, and/or updates to be visible. This seems to work in much the same way as verification on Twitter with the user applying for verification by Google and then receiving a blue badge (again like Twitter) noting the verified profile. Therefore, at the user end, searchers will only see direct artist results providing the artist has applied for verification. For example, the blog announcement details that at present the feature is live for Lorde, Kygo, Sia, Son Little, Sofi Tukker, Shakira, and Steve Aoki.
This actually seems to be an extension of a feature that has been slowly rolling out letting celebrities and well-known people from all industries better connect with the public. One of the most recent examples of this (outside of the music industry) came through in December when Google made it possible for select celebrities to answer (through a pre-recorded video) some of the questions often asked of the celebrity in question. Which in itself followed on from other updates to Search that has allowed individual and business entities to more actively engage with those searching for them. As for this latest feature, it is now live on mobile and desktop for the mentioned artists, with the likelihood more will become available in due course.