Back when Songbird – a music player based on Mozilla's code – initially launched, I was immediately intrigued by the idea. A completely customizable music player. The audio equivalent of Firefox.
Sadly, the critiques were largely true. Songbird was riddled with bugs and sure didn't mind crashing once in a while.
Since then, Songbird has come a long way. Further than most iTunes fans care to admit. Not only is the little birdie far more stable – about as stable as an application gets – the Songbird addons have greatly matured as well.
The Songbird addons discussed below are serious. They can add a lot of extra value to your Songbird experience. With a bit of luck, it might just be enough to convert you to a new music player.
Before the internet, being interested in something was a rather disappointing experience. Now, with the Google-Wikipedia combo, you can get extra information on pretty much everything.
MashTape takes this quest for knowledge – also dubbed, 'being interested' – to your music player and fills in the impersonal blanks between that bulk of artist names.
In a number of tabs, appearing at the bottom of your screen mashTape grabs additional data on the 'now playing' song. In Artist Info, you can read more about the group, with snippets pulled from Last.fm, MusicBrainz, Freebase, or Wikipedia.
Additionally, the News tab gives you an RSS-like experience, with the latest news items from a number of sources, including Google News, Hype Machine, and MTV Music News.
Finally you have the Photos and Videos tabs. These will show pictures and videos from the current artist, from YouTube, Flickr and SmugMug.
LyricMaster isn't a Songbird addon you'll use every single day (or actually, you might), but it can prove invaluable at happy or heavily populated moments. Although a lot of music players allow you to add lyrics to a song, Songbird's LyricMaster pulls them in automatically and displays them in the sidebar.
The sidebar will automatically adjust itself to your theme (as seen above), and can be collapsed when you don't need it. For the diehards, or those regularly offline, LyricMaster also allows you to save the lyrics of a particular, or even all songs, to your hard disk.
Last.fm, in case you've been away, is a music website that can learn your tastes. From there on, you can either play music that's recommended to you, or that's similar to an artist, album, or tag of your choice. It's not as accurate as just using your own music, but it makes for some great new music recommendations. And there's seamless integration with Songbird.
The experience with Songbird's Last.fm add-on is twofold. In terms of scrobbling, the plug-in keeps track of what you're listening to, and stays in constant communication with Last.fm's servers. Even tracks listened while offline will be submitted later on.
As you can see above, Last.fm's radio stations seamlessly play in Songbird. Even the album art keeps up. But probably best of all, you can rate, hate, or tag songs that are playing. And not just the radio stations, but your library music as well.
A lot of people use iTunes because of the music store integration. Songbird now features 7digital integration. 7digital is one of the most popular online music stores. Their prices are considerably lower, and on par with the iTunes music store. Perhaps best of all, you don't need a credit card to access it.
The 7digital Songbird add-on allows you to log into the 7digital store from your music player. From there on, you can purchase or download previously purchased songs to your computer. Song downloads are immediately added to your music Library. If you've been using Songbird long enough, the 7digital add-on also features music recommendations, by scrobbling your music Last.fm-style.
Chris O. asked a good question regarding Songbird:
"But how does it sound?"
I think Songbird is going to sound as good as your hardware allows. I heard no difference using Songbird, and I have a very strong sound system. Your speakers, and the sound from your phone are the real limitations in terms of what you can "hear". The the addons Mozilla now offers and will certainly tom come, seem to make Songbird far more customizable than say iTunes, even Win amp.
If you're satisfied with what you have now, you certainly won't be disappointed with the expansive manner Songbird can be configured.