Web media company Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) Thursday launched a free Web audio search service that helps users find, hear and buy everything from music downloads and podcasts to interviews and newscasts.

Yahoo Audio Search, at http://audio.search.yahoo.com , is still in testing and gives users access to more than 50 million audio files as Yahoo beefs up its entertainment offerings.

For example, a search for "Green Day" yields a list of the band's albums, song samples and links to download services, including Yahoo's own music service, Apple Computer Inc.'s (AAPL) iTunes, Rhapsody from RealNetworks Inc. (RNWK) and Napster Inc..

The service also taps independent publishers and the Web, helping users find such things as music videos, reviews and photographs of the artists.

Yahoo and rivals such as Google Inc. (GOOG) and privately held Blinkx (search) already have launched video search services as the Internet's role in entertainment grows and ad dollars follow.

The company has integrated Yahoo Audio Search (search) with its video search service and has invited people to submit videos and music through Media Really Simple Syndication (search), so it can be found by the new audio search engine.

It also integrated tools from its comparison shopping search engine, which helps users find CD prices and make purchases from a variety of retailers.

Companies such as GoFish and Blinkx already offer audio search. Yahoo acquired early audio search providers AltaVista and AllTheWeb through its purchase of Overture Services in October 2003.

Shares of Yahoo were down 46 cents to $34.05 on the Nasdaq.