Black Castle Software's Song Mixer is a free music manager that makes it especially easy to create playlists and party mixes out of multiple file libraries and locations. You can browse, play, rip, copy, and organize your tunes for burning, or take advantage of its advanced randomization and "mood ring" features to let Song Mixer create playlists based on your preferences. It's based around some familiar open-source tools, such as LAME, WGET, and Free DB, with appropriate credit given, too.
Song Mixer's colorful interface and friendly fonts give it an old-school look and feel that is not only a drastic departure from the slick gray skins typical of music tools these days but also a highly welcome one. However, it's an up-to-date layout with an icon-based toolbar above, main controls on the left, and a gridded file list in the main display, with a new music library displayed and waiting to be filled with tunes. The top button, Library, included subcategories for creating, saving, and modifying libraries. Song Mixer can automatically search for and add tunes, or you can browse to specific locations, including network shares. The MP3 button called up a media player window that included the ability to specify drives, fill playlists with random selections, sync changes, and other functions. The Mix Disc button offered similar features, only geared toward creating playlists for burning files to disk. The Playlist button let us access and edit our playlists, as many as we needed. There's also an RSS feed feature and other extras such as a Debug Log, a Shuffle feature, song importing, duplicates searching, and the Group feature, which groups songs by mood or genre. Some features had useful message balloons. There's even a Name That Tune game that requires online songs in your library.
Song Mixer certainly stands apart from other music managing software, including both the huge-do-it-all packages and their so-called alternatives. But Song Mixer is easy to use, versatile, and a good performer in addition to being just different. If you're still running Vista, you'll need to run Song Mixer as an administrator, and 64-bit Vista and Windows 7 systems may need Microsoft's help file patch. We had no trouble, though.