A friend of mine suggested I give Songbird a try. It wasn’t hard to convince me to do that. I love what Firefox has done to the browser market. They came up with a better browser and they forced Microsoft to start improving IE again. I’ll stick with Firefox anyway, but innovation is back to the browser category.
Longtime readers of this blog know that I have no love lost for iTunes. I use it every day, but there is so much about it that I don’t like that I can’t even list all of the reasons. So an open source competitor to iTunes built on top of the Firefox development environment sounded too good to be true.
Unfortunately, I think it is to good to be true, at least right now. To be fair I am using a pre-release version called "not yet ready to be called 0.2" so that tells you how raw it is.
But from what I can tell,the people at Songbird (that’s them in this photo that I ganked from Flickr) have built a browser with a player integrated into it. I already have a browser so I really don’t need another browser. What I need is a player that is not owned by a company that intends to execute its business model on me with it. I want a player that is by the people, of the people, and for the people.
There are some nice features. If you visit a page where there are mp3s imbedded, like my blog for example, the Songbird browser (because that’s what it is) finds those mp3s and puts them into a playlist. You click on one of them and it plays while you read the post. The sidebar on the left features a lot of my favorite web music services like last.fm, streampad, emusic, amazon, etc. But right now, there isn’t any integration with them. It’s just the equivalent of a bookmark list of sites.
I am sure that Songbird has a lot more up their sleeves and I can’t wait to watch them improve and extend this software. But the whole experience of using Songbird makes me wonder if a better idea might be to do the whole thing in the browser, on the web, instead of requiring all of us to download and use yet another piece of software.
The delicious playtagger, for example, is to my mind a better mp3 player for the web. I don’t need another peice of software to use it, it just plays the music I want to hear right on the page, in my regular browser.
If any of you have tried songbird, I’d love to know what you think.