Mufin, a new music recommendation service, began a private beta today.

Mufin - which is short for Music Finder - bases its recommendations on 40 different characteristics in a song such as tempo, rhythm and mood. It then searches its database for songs with similar patterns - the company refers to them as 'fingerprints' - which can result in smaller and more international bands being played than other might come up on other sites.

"If you go to Last.fm, for example and you want artists similar artist to Pearl Jam you'll get Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. With Mufin you'll get a similar sound but from different places in the world," says Petar Djekic, marketing manager for Mufin.

Mufin's currently only allows 30 second clips of its 3.8 million catalogue to be played although it hopes to have full song streaming eventually. The Berlin based company is looking to partner with a digital site, such as Rhapsody, in order to get access to music that is already licensed for online use.

Users of the site can then buy the song through iTunes or Amazon.com. Mufin receives a percentage from the sale, a portion of which then goes to the rights holder. Mufin declined to specify what percentage it pays rights holders.

Mufin currently has agreements with Universal Music Group, Phononet.net, and All Music Guide, Djekic said.

Mufin is entering a marketplace already crowded with competitors such as Last.fm, Pandora and later this year, EMI. One way it will try to set itself apart will be by creating visuals of the songs pattern and then letting users find songs with similar patterns. The technology behind the company was co-developed at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, where the MP3 format was created. Mufin is a wholly owned subsidiary of Magix Ag, a Berlin software developer.