Editors' Note: Download.com has removed the direct-download link and offers this page for informational purposes only.
If Firefox and iTunes hooked up, their hatchling could very well be Songbird. Basic usage bugs have gone the way of last season's molting, so this fun app that's part music player, part Web browser, and all about music discovery, management, and playback is ready for every day use.
During installation, it'll ask if you want to load your iTunes music directory or another media directory, or perform the task later. Processing 5,000 songs took about 3 minutes, which is not a bad pace. It then asks you which of the preinstalled Songbird extensions you want to load. Most of these, like the iPod, Mass Storage Class, and USB device managers only make the app stronger.
The left sidebar provides quick links to bookmarks, downloads, your music library in an iTunes-style interface, and several music discovery Web sites to get you started. When you're looking at any Web site with MP3s available for download, Songbird will open a new window at the bottom of the main browsing pane. Double-click on a song to play it, and links on the right let you purchase the track from Amazon, iTunes, eMusic, and Amie St. They also tell you the format of the track--MP3 or AAC, for example--and provide a blog link for more info.
Songbird has a growing library of extensions, and support is slowly growing for those written originally for Firefox. Songbird is more than stable enough to take flight for the music-loving, Web-surfing fanatic in all of us.
Songbird is a desktop media player, specifically designed with the future in mind. While most media players are still focusing on local music only, Songbird is currently looking to the constantly-changing landscape of the web for guidance. What does this mean? Simply put, Songbird allows you to 'play' the web. Instead of needing separate applications to search for and listen to music, Songbird allows you to do it all from one simple program, with an astounding level of integration between the web and your music.
Of course, many of the most popular media players, such as iTunes on Mac and Windows, and Winamp and Windows Media Player on Windows, are available free of charge. But there's more to Songbird's freedom than its lack of a price tag: Songbird is open-source, which means that it is community-driven and powered by you. You can truly make it your own and modify it to your heart's content with add-ons. Also, rather than just implementing the features that are most likely to bring in revenue, Songbird's development team can implement features that they think are cutting-edge, useful, or just plain cool.
Have you ever tried to play music on another operating system, only to find that you are unfamiliar with the media player? That's not a problem with Songbird, since it runs on the 'big three' of operating systems (Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X), which means that you'll have a consistent experience between operating systems.
Songbird is probably the most customizable media player on the planet. Want to change the way it looks, add support for a web service, or add something new to the way the media library works? There's probably an add-on for it, and they are easy to install.