Mozilla: Songbird Media Player

Play music. Play the Web.

Songbird is a desktop media player mashed-up with the Web. Songbird is committed to playing the music you want, from the sites you want, on the devices you want, challenging the conventions of discovery, purchase, consumption and organization of music on the Internet.

Songbird is a player and a platform. Like Firefox, Songbird is an open source, Open Web project built on the Mozilla platform. Songbird provides a public playground for Web media mash-ups by providing developers with both desktop and Web APIs, developer resources and fostering Open Web media standards, to wit, an Open Media Web.

Songbird 0.5

Songbird 0.6rc2 is now available for download!


If you’re interested, you can also read the release notes.

New features and changes that we’d appreciate your feedback on include:

  • Performance improvements such as: support for larger media libraries, smoother scrolling, faster filtering, speedier search; significantly reduced memory footprint on Windows and Linux builds for many common tasks; and for Mac users the latest Quicktime add-on greatly improves playback performance for local MP3 and M4A files (no more latency issues before playback begins.)
  • Improved ease of use through: adding the ability to search for text within a webpage using cmd/ctrl + f; enabling the Edit menu options – copy, paste, select all and delete now work; providing a way to filter and sort your library by bit rate; making the View menu options more intuitive – it’s now easier to switch feathers; adding the ability to hide/show display panes; enabling feathers to now be auto-loaded after being installed by choosing the option to restart the application; revisiting the scan for media and metadata reading progress bars by making them modal to prevent scenarios where the application can lockup during these intensive tasks – we’ll be improving the flow in the next release so it’s not two dialogs, Mac users should note, sigh, that a XULRunner bug will cause modal dialogs to appear on top of everything in the OS; and enabling popup window blocking as the default.
  • Brand new features include: a new metadata editor that allows you to make changes to your media and write the edits back to the file(s); a Shoutcast Radio directory integrated directly into Songbird that makes it easy to discover and stream music; new contextual menu options in the browser component of Songbird.
  • Improved device support: on windows, MTP devices now support Sync functionality; on all platforms, iPod performance has been greatly improved.


Songbird uses TagLib 1.5 on all platforms to read from FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, MP3, M4A, MusePack, TrueAudio, and WavPack files. This includes all versions of ID3, APE, and Vorbis comments.

On Windows/Mac the QuickTime extension adds AMR, M4P, and M4B reading.

On Windows only, Windows Media Player adds WMA, WMV, ASF, ASX, and AVI reading support.

As of this release our TagLib wrapper also supports writing the following formats:

  • MP3 – ID3v2.4, leaving existing ID3v1 as-is.
  • FLAC – Vorbis comments, updating ID3 tags if they exist.
  • MusePack – APE, updating ID3 tags if they exist.
  • Ogg Vorbis – Vorbis comments.
  • TrueAudio – ID3v2.4, updating ID3v1 tags if they exist.
  • WavPack – APE and ID3v1.

Further support can be added with TagLib plugins, and the clunky but functional sbIMetadataHandler interface. At the moment there are open bugs to add Ogg FLAC, Speex, and M4A support.

Note that writing is currently disabled by default, and a prompt is shown on first edit. The plan is to enable writing by default in the final released build.


Currently Songbird tries to write title, artist, album-artist, album, comment, lyrics, genre, producer, composer, conductor, lyricist, record label, language, key, license, license URL, year, track number, total tracks, disc number, total discs, and BPM tags.

Rather than add custom logic mapping Songbird properties to various metadata tags, Peter, aka pvh, has been working on enhancing the generic interface provided by TagLib. The new interface exposes all common tags, and leaves format specific handling to each implementation. Where possible, he’s been following the mappings used by PicardQt.

While this functionality is working quite well, there are a few peculiarities worth mentioning:

  • The non-standard part of compilation flag is not yet supported (Bug 9090).
  • Total tracks and total discs are not supported by some formats, and are being written as a single string of number/total.
  • Songbird currently only supports one genre tag per item, where some formats support multiple.
  • Play count and rating are not written by default, but may be available with a preference option (Bug 9084, 9236).
  • Reading and writing album artwork is not yet supported (Bug 9033).
  • Some properties cannot be unset at the moment (Bug 8530).
  • The producer tag is not handled correctly in ID3v2 (Bug 9086).
  • Lyrics and lyricist tags are not handle correctly in ID3v2 (Bug 9091).
  • Comments are truncated in some cases when writing ID3v2 (Bug 9088).


This release will ship with a basic, but extensible, modal metadata editing dialog. To try it out, select some tracks, then press CTRL/CMD-E, or select Tools -> Metadata Editor from the main menu.

While a modal dialog is less than ideal for power users, it significantly reduces user experience complexity. If you are outraged by this decision, don’t worry, we’ll also be releasing an extension with a non-modal editor and display pane.

It is now much easier to overlay new functionality into the editor, so if there is something you’d like to see, stop by If time permits, we’ll add some additional panes such as an advanced property viewer, lyrics editor, and summary page.


2 thoughts on “Mozilla: Songbird Media Player

  1. The songbird seems to have an interface like iTunes…. 🙂 But yeah it’s another alternative for the other Media Players… 😉 That would be really cool to experiment with… seems Mozilla also is gaining heights nowadays, first it was Firefox then Thunderbird and now hopefully Songbird… Btw u have noticed they are associated names of animals? “Fox and Bird” 😉 Hmmm wat’s the theory behind that?


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