Anyone can create a web browser. All one has to do is choose one of the basic browser engines…such as IE, Gecko or Mozilla – and build their GUI (Graphical User Interface) on it…add bells and whistles, create a developer community for add-ons…get some VC funding…tie up with various content aggregators, social networking sites… and you can launch a “unique” browser in an increasingly crowded market. A lot of the innovations developed by these small browser start-ups eventually find their way into the major browsers – and in that way the existence of these small browsers is useful, to shake up the system a little. I keep trying these browsers once in a while…installing them…testing them…and removing them in a few hours, once I realize I miss my IE or Firefox. I thought Songbird would suffer the same fate… so I was pleasantly surprised to realize that this was the 6th straight day I had used this little, unknown browser-cum-media player-cum-iTunes-clone.
Songbird is a Mozilla based browser which has a Firefox style GUI integrated with a full-fledged MP3 manager, player and external device manager. What does this mean for you? If you are someone who listens to music a lot the time, have a gigantic music collection on your PC/Laptop, own an iPod or any MTP compliant music device, spends some time on the web to stoke an obsession for music (among other things)…you have one application for all your needs. (Coincidentally…I just described a bit of myself in there! ;))
Songbird’s Song Interface
Songbird plays MP3s! And manages your playlists! Songbird has a standard multi-tab interface where the first tab is the Music Manager by default. It is as full featured a Music Manager as you will find… with areas for the Music lists (in the center), a playlist manager on the left (a la iTunes) and customizable content panes at the bottom and on the right – where you can have Artist/Album information and/or Song Lyrics which automatically update themselves from the web, when you play a song. The Music Player interface can be configured to be at the bottom or the top. The content pane at the bottom can be configured to display a sweet little trick called “Mashtape” where you can switch between the kind of media you want to view about the Artist playing – Bio, News, Photos, Videos and others. Here you can see it automatically displaying a stream of G N’ R photographs from the web. (BTW…these content panes and colors are completely customizable to suit your tastes. It may come as a huge surprise to you…but I LOVE black…)
You can also see a list of all relevant videos from the artist posted on YouTube here… pretty awesome! The Music Manager itself is very easy and intuitive – and you can home in on your track by album or artist or even the “beat” of the song by typing the beat of the song on your SPACE key!
A blessing for someone with tonnes of MP3s! And the best bit of news for iPod owners – it syncs with your iPod! It effectively replaces iTunes (an application which I personally do not like – it is heavy and keeps asking me to buy stuff from their site…which I don’t want.)
Wish to listen to one of the thousands of free internet music stations…? No problems…Songbird comes integrated with a Internet Radio player – which finds Streaming Radio stations by Genre (80’s, Classics, Metal, Instrumental etc…) and connects to these stations to give you free music 24/7!
Songbird’s Bird Interface
By bird of course I mean the freedom of flying on the internet! With the first tab fixed as the Music Manager – the other tabs are a normal, full-fledged browser… all pages which open in a Firefox will open here. As you would expect, this post is being written in Songbird. Images render properly and fast…and so far I have had no issues regarding any kind of content.
As you see above…the lyrics pane remains even when a browser tab is opened…but you can hide it with a click.
As is typical for the open source Mozilla community…scores of interesting and useful addons are available for you to maximize your Songbird experience… the Lyrics Manager, the Last.fm track scobbler (this is the list of songs that you see at the right, here at Grimescene…which is basically what I am listening to at this instant! Cool isn’t it?), the duplicate MP3 remover etc… lots of them for you to play around with!
Songbird is a great piece of software… which brings music and the web together. The web has proven – atleast for me – to be a great companion to help me enjoy my music fixation to the max. I like reading about my favorite artists, the history behind famous albums and songs – all of this enhances my music experience. Songbird is the best software that I have seen which lets me do all of this…at one place. And check my email, blog and linkedin messages! Great product…highly recommended by Grimescene for all lovers of music.
You can check it out here: www.getsongbird.com. Enjoy!