Karmadownload.com, Mixmatcher

The Tangled Web, a weekly column featuring interesting music-related online destinations. This week: Karmadownload.com, Mixmatcher.

GOOD KARMA A new British download service is showcasing music from unsigned artists and independent label acts. Karmadownload.com launched last week (Aug. 25) with content licensed from more than 3,000 independent labels worldwide, plus a "vast amount" of repertoire from unsigned acts.

The Orchard, British venues brand Barfly, and U.K. labels body the Assn. of Independent Music have struck content agreements for the service. The latter pact provides access to legitimate downloads from 120 labels, including Ninja Tune, Finger Lickin, Lowlife, K7! and Fierce Panda.

The MP3 downloads cost £0.99 ($1.77); the price is £0.8 ($1.43) if purchased in bundles of four or more. Complete albums are £6 ($10.77).

"The vision for this platform is to be more than just a shop," says Jamie Estrin, managing director of the privately held London venture Karma Music Group. "We wanted to present a destination point where music fans can discover and buy into the latest acts within their favorite music scene, from grass roots through to signed acts."

Karma Music Group intends to expand the service this fall with the complementary Webcast feature KarmaDownload Radio and the live performance platform KarmaDownload Sessions.

MIX AND MATCH: The iPod generation has led to a new cultural implication for the mix. What used to be a cassette creation given to one's crush or best friend and popped into a Walkman or car stereo is now, for many, the primary form of music listening. As whole record collections are converted to digital audio files that can be flipped and rearranged at will, personalized playlists -- on computers or digital music players -- have become the new albums.

And unlike those old hand-lettered cassette tapes, digital playlists offer music fans the option to share a mix with multiple people -- even strangers -- with ease. Exploring the various contexts of playlists and mixes is Mixmatcher, which is a self-described "collaborative playlist environment."

Visitors of the site are encouraged to create/submit mixes or build upon mixes already populating the site, organized by a wide swath of themes. A search engine allows the playlists to be explored by name or by song or artist included. Songs included on multiple playlists lead users to draw connections and discover meanings in the music, site creator Ben Tesch suggests.

The playlists on Mixmatcher aren't collections of digital music, merely lists of songs. However, samples of many of them can be listened to via links to the iTunes Music Store.