Songbird is an interesting creation — the result of cross-breeding an iTunes-style music player with a modern web browser. It’s based on the Mozilla XULRunner platform (you can essentially read that as “it’s based on Firefox”), and that’s probably partly responsible for its lust for resources (while running, it likes to use ~30% of one CPU on my laptop), but you’d be surprised just how useful it can be to have the power of a web browser in your music player.

There’s perhaps no better example than the mashTape extension. It appears as a bar along the bottom of the Songbird window, and when you play a track, it automatically pulls in related information from all over the web: artist info and a discography from and Wikipedia, photos from Flickr, videos from YouTube, reviews from Amazon… you get the idea. The LyricMaster extension pulls in lyrics in much the same way.

The other really neat example, which I only just discovered, is website streaming. Just like in Firefox, you can hit Ctrl-T in Songbird to open a browser tab, and while I wouldn’t use it for general browsing, it’s very handy if you have a page that’s full of links to MP3s. When you open such a page, Songbird detects the links and lists them in a playlist panel at the bottom of the window, where you can play them using the standard Songbird controls, or download them to your library with a click. It even fetches the tags from the files in the background, so while it only lists filenames at first, it soon fills in the full details.

As you’d expect, Songbird also has quite complete support — it’ll scrobble your tracks for you, and also give you access to your streaming radio. If you’re a music junkie, and you’re not wedded to your current player, Songbird is definitely worth a look.