iTunes Alternative: Songbird is to iTunes What Firefox is to IE
When I first moved back to Louisiana, I bought a car that fulfilled a few of my childhood dreams. It's an Audi A4 2.0T with rims, tint, sport suspension, BOOM and a Pioneer touch-screen iPod-compatible/GPS-enabled stereo system. I'm such a teenage kid. Haha. Anyway, what's even better is that I'm able to have a dedicated "iPod" for my car at no cost because I was able to recycle my friend's broken iPhone. After she dropped her iPhone in a drink at the bar and broke the touch screen, she got a Blackberry Curve and gave me her iPhone. I didn't need to use the screen (my stereo navigates through it via it's interface), so I was able to just wipe all of her data and load the disabled phone with my tunes.
It was at this time that I began to use iTunes extensively. Its speed was decent initially, but just recently, as my library grew, the load up time became unbearable. I didn't think I could find an alternative, however, because I didn't want to give up my iTunes store access and I figured all other media managers would be incompatible. So I was even looking for love when I found Songbird via a blog posting on audiojungle.net.
The first thing that caught my attention was Songbird's tabbed browsing. Then the add-ons. Then the mega-integration with one of my favorite sites, last.fm, which pretty much sold me on trying it.
During the install, I learned that Songbird stays in sync with my iTunes library/playlists so I can continue using iTunes when necessary (such as when I want to buy an album, though recently, I began buying more from Amazon MP3 [which my genius friend Ross helped to build :D]). Once Songbird was up and running, I went load up on some add-ons. There's quite a few, some useful and some not so much. Here are the ones I used to pimp my Songbird:- LyricMaster One of my favorite features! Songbird automatically gets Lyrics and displays them, plain text, in a selected pane.
Song Notifier Pops up the name/artist of song near the system tray.
Concerts (by Songkick.com) Ohhh, this would have been more useful when I lived in San Francisco. Takes the artists in your library and let's you know where they are playing in a given city or region. Apparently, not a lot of my favorites are playing in New Orleans/Baton Rouge or Lafayette anytime soon.
Last.fm Album Art Awesome! Although I wish there was an option to just have last.fm's album art fill in the gaps and show the file's picture if there's one embedded.
MinimizeToTray Revived (MinTrayR) This helps fill in the gap for one of the features I miss most in iTunes -- its built-in Windows Toolbar. But I can't have that right now, so at least I can minimize to tray and have Song Notifier tell me what's playing.
Songbird 1.0 is totally my favorite app of 08. If you haven't tried it yet and you are iffy about your current media manager, I suggest giving it a shot. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux.