Listen to the Web, Pilfer MP3’s with Songbird

by oz on January 21, 2007

Songbird Bird

Have you ever passed by a website or music blog and thought it’d be great if you could easily download all the MP3’s? How about if you could visit HearYa, have a program search the site for MP3’s, and then display them for you to drag and drop into your media player as a playlist? You know what I’m going to say. Well now you can.

I downloaded Songbird a month or two ago and have been tinkering with it ever since. Songbird is described as a desktop Web player, digital jukebox and Web browser mash-up. That’s pretty fancy, so I’ll try to describe it in simpler terms. If you use iTunes, this will be easy.

Songbird looks and acts just like iTunes (except it’s black). I downloaded Songbird in a few minutes and used it’s iTunes importer to pull in my entire music library. It was a carbon copy of iTunes, which wasn’t too special to me. Here’s a small picture of Songbird when you open it.
Songbird Home

Here’s where Songbird gets interesting. It acts as a browser, so you can type in any url and visit the website within the player. I visited HearYa. It’s hard to see in the picture below, but when you visit a site with MP3’s, it will display the playable tracks just below the website in the player. From there, you can listen to the MP3’s, download them to your desktop, or drag and drop them into your music library.
Songbird HearYa

The picture below shows my library after I dragged the tracks from HearYa’s “Listen” page and dropped them directly into my library.

Songbird Drag and Drop

Songbird must be in Beta, because it says it’s a developer preview. I’m not a developer, but I found Songbird super easy to download and the iTunes importer worked like a breeze. The only negative is that when you stalk MP3 blogs, the files aren’t always tagged properly, so you may need to edit them in Songbird. I also couldn’t find a way to add the songs to my iPod without downloading them and importing to iTunes. I think there’s an iPod add-on to do that, however.

I’m not sure if I would move away from iTunes to use Songbird 100%, but I will keep it on my desktop and keep up with their progress. I know I’m probably leaving out several great features that I’ll run into upon further experimentation. The browser/MP3 feature is too cool to ignore.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Erik Staats January 22, 2007 at 6:43 am

iPod support is available as an extension at

oz January 22, 2007 at 3:46 pm

Thanks Erik. I actually tried to download it and had some issues. Might have been b/c I was using Firefox.

Simon February 4, 2007 at 5:24 am

Hi. I was wondering if you figured out were files are stored when you drag them to your library? Or maybe Songbird doesn’t store them like a file, but like a URL, so you cant burn it onto CDs and copy it?

Any Ideas ?

I checked the downloads folder, it’s not in there. 🙂

oz February 4, 2007 at 11:25 am

Good question Simon. I guess I should have thought twice before using the word “download.” I think it serves as strictly a player in its current form. You will probably still need to right click the link to download and save the file to your desktop.

I haven’t dug into Songbird as much as I should have, but it looks like they have a pretty extensive forum on their site you can check out.

mig February 18, 2007 at 7:06 pm

Songbird can either add the urls to the remote files into your library, or download the files into your library, or be subscribed to the webpage to automatically download all files and check back on a timer (you set) for new files — essentially turning any mp3 blog page into a podcast.

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