Launching in private beta on Wednesday is Mufin, a Berlin-based music discovery service that helps users find similar tracks based on identifiers within a song. It scans each track for its density, tempo, and rhythm, then draws comparisons with other songs that match. What you get is a system that lets you find similar tracks by sound, even if they cross multiple genres.
Last week I chatted with Petar Djekic, the service's marketing manager, about this process and its origins. What's interesting is that it's a spinoff from the technology that was created to identify songs from short clips--the same thing that's found in Midomi and Shazam. The difference here is that songs must first be worked through a cataloging process that takes just a few seconds to scan a 10 to 20-track album.
The information gets fed into a massive search engine which assigns a percentage of similarity from track to track. It can also do the same for albums, so if you're in love with the specific work from an artist you can see other entire albums you might like.
You might be asking yourself how this could be at all useful in an age where two of the highest profile MP3 players (iPod and Zune) now have built-in recommendation tools both on the player hardware and computer software. Djekic's answer to this is that both of these solutions, as well as those found on Last.fm and Amazon.com, are all based on user behavior. You can get similar tracks, but not without some effort either on your end or that of other users. Djekic says anyone can simply come to Mufin with their existing library and get a list of related tracks without having to make friends or provide ratings.
In addition to its search tool, Mufin provides a playlist creator for tracks that have streaming rights. You can't share these playlists with anyone else (yet), but you can save them for later, as well as pop them out in their own window to play while you're off doing other things. If you're more keen to own the tracks the service is integrated with iTunes, and soon Amazon's MP3 store, so you can buy what you like.
Mufin is a really cool and handy service. There are already 3.8 million tracks in the catalog, which is growing rapidly. It's currently in private beta, although we've got 100 invites to give out. To get yours, visit the service through this link.
Note: Last.fm is owned by CNET parent company CBS Interactive.
Note 2: Information regarding album processing times has been amended. It was originally stated that it took 2-3 days to process an album, whereas that's how long it takes to be fed into Mufin's search index.