Sunday, May 20, 2007

Songbird - Firefox of Media Players

Now after systematically dismantling the hold of Internet Explorer over the user's internet browsing experience, comes another threat - this time to proprietary media players. Songbird might not only hurt Microsoft here, but also other biggies who are much more prominent in the post-ipod world.


For the geeks (if they haven't already heard of it, that is), Songbird is built on Mozilla's XULRunner interface, which allows seamless integration with all platforms, be it Windows, Mac or Linux. For the not so geeky, Songbird is a player that, apart from serving as your everyday desktop based media player, plays media from the web. You can browse web sites from the player itself and if you land on sites that contain music it will crawl that page and create playlists from all the media present on that page. What more? You can just click on the song in the playlist and it will play it just like it will play your local audio. It downloads the ID3 tag information and everything, and you can save the song by dragging and dropping it into your library. Yes it's as simple as that.

The screencast at the end of the post will better explain what this player is capable of.

And there's more. It has a preloaded list of mp3 blogs and many more that you can subscribe to very easily. The player will extract the music and feed it to you as and when the artist updates his site. This is very, very useful for indie artists to get noticed. The player has a number of search engines that scour the web for music. Oh yes, the folks at Songbird do advise us to download responsibly! Speaking of which, Songbird plays Apple and Windows Media DRM encoded audio, and multiple audio formats such as MP3, AAC, OGG, WMA etc.

And I haven't touched on other features such as the possibility of syncing it with almost any mp3 device, the ability to skin the player with minimum of fuss (oops, sorry, they call it feathers!), bookmarking and a number of add-ons that can be developed (something like Greasemonkey) to make this more powerful than ever.

Songbird is still under development, but they do have a stable version out that you can download from here for Windows.

I will leave you with the screencast. Do watch it. It's not all that boring. If you want to watch a higher resolution screencast check out the one on their site.

Update: For those, like me, wanting to install the Linux version, this wiki has the install script which makes installing Songbird a breeze. In case it doesn't work, like it initially didn't in mine, just remove '(-)' from the first line: #!/bin/bash (-) of the file you create. Hope that helps.


  1. songbird is definitely kickass.. really cool looking too :)
    take a look at Amarok ( also..

  2. I currently use Amarok. It is good. Especially the feature that extracts artist and song info from Wikipedia.

    But I guess Songbird looks better, and seems to have more potential.
    Have you tried Songbird?

  3. [...] is impressed with Songbird. For the geeks (if they haven’t already heard of it, that is), Songbird is built on Mozilla’s [...]

  4. oh yeah.. i have.. back when it just a tiny egg.. these days i tend to play my music from inside my sequencer :D

  5. This is the third or fourth time I'm installing it (in XP) since it was released. Hasn't hanged on me, yet.

  6. [Dipika]
    Songbird is still in a developmental stage. It is not for official download yet. You can download it, but it will be bug-ridden and all. If it has not hanged on your's then great! For those interested in discovering new artists, it is a great option. It is also a great alternative to itunes in the podcast sector.

  7. I know. I was hoping it'd be an alternative to iTunes for managing music, with all the extension possibilities. That hasn't materialized yet, but if it had I'd put up with all the general bugginess.