Songbird, iTunes, Last.fm, Mugshot… sigh…

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been mentioning some forays into organising my digital music collection, and ways in which I’ve been sharing my playlist. 

To recap: I was introduced to Mugshot, which made me want to be able to share my playlist. To do that I started using iTunes. Then I got into last.fm. Currently I have all three living in some kind of harmony.

I’m not truly happy with iTunes. I don’t have an iPod, I don’t really want to be organising my library around iTunes, it doesn’t cope well with streaming stuff from my server at home, I’m not sure it tags properly, the album art is held in some kind of horrid proprietary format… you get the picture. And I don’t like DRM, but then neither does Steve Jobs (great counterpoint article to the current hoopla, over here).

Songbird seems to be the perfect answer. It’s a new music player built on the Mozilla platform. Stephen O’Grady talked about Songbird back in December, amongst other things. It essentially lets me manage my music my way. It has extensions, including a last.fm / Audioscrobbler plugin. It is brilliantly integrated with the web – find a page with links to music files, and you can add them directly to the Songbird library… it will download them in the background. You really should check out the screencast for a nice overview. The only thing missing is the whizzy flippy album cover eye candy that iTunes provides.

Well, not quite the only thing. I have issues with Songbird, too. First up is that Mugshot doesn’t integrate with it. I didn’t think that this would be a problem, as Mugshot knows about my last.fm profile… but it actually doesn’t seem to pick up what I’m playing from there, only from iTunes itself when it is running on my laptop. Next, although Songbird has an Audioscrobbler plugin, it is… temperamental… and doesn’t work quite right. It also doesn’t let me browse radio streams from my last.fm neighbours, or mark tunes as ones that I love, both of which the “official” last.fm client software can do. But hey, Songbird as a whole is only at version 0.2.x, so maybe I shouldn’t be expecting the moon on a stick.

Oh, and on top of all that, I’ve been trying to use Media Monkey to organise my ID3 tags and embed album art. That is a bit hit-and-miss… my eclectic taste in some obscure artists seems to be defeating even the smartest tagging software.

So for now, I’m back on iTunes for ripping and playing, the last.fm client for scrobbling, and Mugshot remains in my life. And I keep Songbird handy for those times I want to leech a whole load of free tunes.

While I’m here, I just want to mention that the latest version of the Mugshot client (for Windows) seems far, far more stable. It integrates nicely with Firefox, and I haven’t yet seen one of the random low-level library crashes that was bringing the app down regularly in the previous version. If you are interested in taking a look, I’d be delighted to have you in my network.

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6 responses to “Songbird, iTunes, Last.fm, Mugshot… sigh…

  1. I’ve become quite the little Mugshot addict, and enjoy seeing friends’ music, del.icio.us and blog posts pop up. So don’t be giving THAT up! 🙂

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  2. Songbird looks pretty sweet. Just watched the screencast and added it to my todo list. Thanks.

    Will be even nicer when it scrobbled to Last.fm properly, and Mugshot properly feeds from there (which works for me by the way).

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  3. I’ve seen Mugshot working off your last.fm feed, Roo – but my stuff doesn’t show up in the stacker unless I’m using iTunes and Mugshot together.

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  4. hi andy: my Songbird instance doesn’t scrobble perfectly, but everything does seem to make it to my Last.fm account eventually.

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  5. Thanks Stephen. I’m tracking the bugs in bugzilla, and they do seem to be working on it – I’m having more success with the scrobbler now.

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  6. I use Helium Music Manager for my scrobbling needs which has integrated support for it. It handles my large collection nicely and even has a web style thingy built into the application which is must like last.fm, but with only your own music.

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