The Web's Most Intriguing Music-Related Issues & Destinations. This Week: NuFace, WebCDs.com and Globaldust.

THE NU FACE OF WEB RADIO: Technology company NuFace Entertainment, through a link-up with Clear Channel Chicago, is offering Web surfers yet another twist on the online radio experience.

A new version of NuFace's digital-download platform has been launched on wgci.com, the online home of Chicago FM station WGCI, that will allow listeners streaming the station's online broadcast to download new singles to personal computers or digital devices. The service also plans to offer new singles for download before they are released in physical form to the market.

The program launches this week with "Closer," a new single by R&B artist Maurice Mahon (Blue Moon Records) which was written and produced by R. Kelly. The single is not yet available in stores. Over the next few weeks, the station will give away thousands of download codes that will allow fans to preview and download the digital track from the WGCI site.

The full service is scheduled to start July 26, at which point site visitors will be able to download and purchase a host of tracks from major and independent labels.


BROWSING THE INDIES: Veteran producer Paul Scaturro has formed WebCDs.com, a site which promotes new artists' music through links to free audio files and purchasing fulfillment for CDs.

The site focuses on emerging acts, unsigned bands and independent artists, giving them exposure through the portal for a fee. Browsing the free MP3s and video files is a risk-free way to get to know some new artists, Scaturro suggests.

Artists featured on WebCDs' current top-10 lists include singer/songwriter Christin Cook, Miami-based rap/funk outfit the Square Egg, classical guitarist Behzad Mirkhani and former Wall of Voodoo frontman Stan Ridgway.


SCATTERED DUST: Globaldust is a site for demographically-inclined music fans or researchers. It encourages visitors to register as fans of any music act (as well as sports teams and movie/TV shows and stars), and then plots results on a worldwide map.

Users can also access forums to chat with like-minded music fans from around the world. Along with being a database to connect fans from distant lands, the site also bills itself as a tool for music researchers and professionals, who can pore over the demographic information collected to glean potentially valuable statistics.