Currently obsessed with: Songbird

You know when you have one of those days when you’re just feeling all ‘Wow, technology is really really really really great’? I’ve had one of those today. Things have worked, there’s been lots of cool announcements, and no one has said anything twatty on YouTube. Technology *is* great.

Specifically, today I discovered Songbird, which has just been released as a full version by Mozilla (creators of Firefox). It’s an alternative to iTunes, and what an alternative. There is so much cool stuff you can do with this programme it seems only fair to break it down, point by point. And let’s face it, that might justify the fact that I’ve spent the past two hours discovering it, point by point.

The main advantage is that because it’s an open source project, there are loads of your favourite music services mashed up within the programme. For instance…

The Hype Machine
There’s a bookmark within the left hand control panel, which will take you straight to The HypeMachine, without leaving Songbird. From here you can search for a song or artist, and download a free MP3 of your chosen track. It then gets instantly dumped into your music library, no messing.


Click on a song in your library, and contextual information about the artist will appear in the bottom pane. It’ll also deliver you the latest news headlines regarding them, photos and videos. Click on a link within the text, and it’ll open a browser tab within Songbird telling you all about the person/news/song you’ve clicked.

It helps you discover awesome things about the music you’ve got…

My favourite bit is the fact that it’ll scan your entire library and come up with a list of any live dates they have scheduled. It’s my favourite bit, but it’s an expensive bit (£40 and counting today).

They’ve taken some time on it…

It works
iTunes has been making a complete hash of updating my iPod Classic recently, but as we speak, 6,000 tracks are being synched on Songbird and (fingers crossed) it seems to be working first time.

It looks good
It’s clean in a way iTunes no longer is, thanks to all the ‘added functionality’ aka noise. Being an opensource project you can download new skins, making it look more like iTunes, darker, lighter, more fuzzy etc.

But it’s not perfect…

– there’s no equivalent to Apple’s Genius playlist function, which is something I’ve quite enjoyed using recently.

– you can’t rip from a CD. I know. Bizarre.

– there doesn’t seem to be a way of automatically collecting missing album art. There’s not an equivalent to the iTunes Store backing it up, so data like that isn’t as readily available.

Overall, it’s made my Wednesday a joy. And software that can do that don’t come along too often, folks.

Get it here.

Susi Weaser