Open sourcing the music experience with Songbird

Songbird is a really cool way to experience music. Open source style.


I've kept an eye on Songbird for a year or so now. The project defines itself as "a complete desktop media player or 'jukebox' with a uniquely open approach to Internet digital media network services." I like to think of it as the music sourced.

InformationWeek's review of Songbird is dead on: enormous potential but still quite a few rough edges:

The idea seems to be to create something that has the same extensible, developer-friendly framework as Firefox, so that people can write plugins to add all different kinds of functionality to the core program....

A big part of what Songbird is about is something that, say, the Zune seemed to be aiming for but fell far short of (and created in a totally closed-ended fashion): a way to make digital music into a social phenomenon. Songbird comes pre-loaded with bookmarks to a number of music aggregation sites, like The Hype Machine, and can speak to any number of Web page music APIs. This makes it possible to build a Web page that a Songbird user can navigate to, plug into, and play from.

Music is a social thing. iTunes, for all its strengths, isolates music. Sure, you can share your music across a network, but it's a thin form of sharing. Songbird aims to open up its music jukebox to improvisation and innovation.

In a tree by the brook there's a songbird who sings
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven. (Led Zeppelin)

Not in the case of Songbird. Will it turn out to be a winner? I'm not sure. That depends entirely on you...which is why it's such an interesting project.

Tech Culture
About the author

    Matt Asay is chief operating officer at Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system. Prior to Canonical, Matt was general manager of the Americas division and vice president of business development at Alfresco, an open-source applications company. Matt brings a decade of in-the-trenches open-source business and legal experience to The Open Road, with an emphasis on emerging open-source business strategies and opportunities. He is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not an employee of CNET. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mjasay.


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