Songbird Singing

If you are an inveterate tweaker of computers, always trying to find a new cool program that will do things better or just differently, if you are not afraid of installing programs that haven’t even reached version 1.0, if you are not totally enamored with iTunes, or if you really love finding new music and new ways of finding new music, then I want to recommend a cool open source program that I recently stumbled upon called Songbird.

Based on the Mozilla architecture, Songbird’s tag-line is “Play Music. Play the Web” and it works as both a regular music player on your desktop, but then, where it really kicks out the jams, is how it handles web pages. Built around browser technology, Songbird includes a built in browser. When you go to a site that has music posted, Songbird automatically creates a songlist of all the songs on that web page, including metadata, and allows you to play them just as you would a playlist on your own computer. Want to save a song to your hard drive? Just drag it to the “Library” folder on the left column and it’s automatically saved. The program has several music blogs already bookmarked so you can instantly check out the “Playing the Web” function which provides a great way to find and listen to new music.

Songbird is in early development and so it’s definitely rough around the edges–it doesn’t respond well to OS X’s Expose or to my pre-programmed minimize command on my mouse, but I have been using it off-and-on for about a week and have no major complaints. I haven’t tested the iPod function as of yet, but may try it this weekend. I certainly plan on keeping Songbird on my system and look forward to its continued development.

Yet with all that, there are two ways in which it beats iTunes hands down. The first is that Songbird just freakin’ sounds better. No fancy audio plugins, no changing of volume, no tweaking in any way and Songbird sounds richer and has more volume. The second is a simple no-brainer, but iTunes just gets it dead wrong. Let’s say you are in your Library’s Music view and are playing “Sons and Daughters” from “The Crane Wife” (The Decemberists). For some reason you stop the song and then switch to one of your playlists. When you go back to your Music, you will not be returned to your last view–in this case The Crane Wife. Instead you are returned to the top of your music library. Songbird returns you to your last view, regardless of how many other playlists you look at or websites you visit. As someone who makes mixes for family and friends, this is a much better design.

Check out my Music page within Songbird and you can groove to the tunes of your humble host. Ok, well groove is probably not the right word. But hey, you can groove to “TechnoDuck” right here on the main page.

If you do end up playing with Songbird, sing us a tune in the comments with your thoughts.

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