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.
  • iPod Support and Last.fm Scrobbling
    Kinda boring but totally important.
  • 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.
  • Music Recommendations
    Powered by Last.fm. Love the Dykeenies? You might like Little Man Tate, too (I totally do!)
  • 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.

  • Click to see the prodigiousness up close.

    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.

    Chrissy is a PowerShell MVP who has worked in IT for nearly 20 years, and currently serves as a Sr. Database Engineer in Belgium. Always an avid scripter, she attended the Monad session at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles back in 2005 and has worked and played with PowerShell ever since. Chrissy is currently pursuing an MS in Systems Engineering at Regis University and helps maintain RealCajunRecipes.com in her spare time. She holds a number of certifications, including those relating to SQL Server, SuSE Linux, SharePoint and network security. She recently became co-lead of the SQL PASS PowerShell Virtual Chapter. You can follow her on Twitter at @cl.

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    3 comments on “iTunes Alternative: Songbird is to iTunes What Firefox is to IE
    1. timheuer says:

      Does Songbird “monitor” folders? That’s my pet peeve of iTunes. I used a managed share on my home network and my laptop isn’t aware of new music in the folder unless I specifically add it via iTunes. Windows Media Player “monitors” folders and adds them to the library when it finds ones that aren’t there. If Songbird does that, I’m switched.

    2. I was on the fence over whether to five Songbird some time and attention. You have convinced me to try…

      The only other feature I think I’ll need is some sort of cross-machine library streaming, but I’d imagine that is doable with addons.

    3. Chrissy says:

      Hey Tim,
      Apparently, that feature (called “watchfolders”) was taken out of release 1.0 but is planned for the release right after that one.

      Corey,
      I think it already might. Is a trimmed down version of that what you were looking for?

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    1. […] EDIT: This post is about 3 years old now and I’ve since started using Songbird. Click here to read my review titled: “Songbird is to iTunes what FireFox is to IE”. […]

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