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Music round-up: Songbird attempts take-off, iPod marches on and Last.fm put people and music first…

an image of the iTunes, Last.fm and Songbird logosSo you like your music, yes? Good. So do I. And guess what? There’s a whole bunch of other people out there who do too.

So here’s a round-up of the music stuff that’s found a sympathetic ear with me and some of the people in the music biz making all the right noises.

Songbird is a desktop Web player, a digital jukebox and Web browser mash-up. Like Winamp, it supports extensions and skins feathers. Like Firefox, it is built from Mozilla, cross-platform and open source.”

I did / n’t do a review of Songbird recently, so you might want to see what I said and take things from there.

But if you’re just too damned eager to wait and read, go to the Songbird nest and download a copy right now.

There are those that aren’t quite as generous with the praise as myself, but they’re as entitled to opine as the next man or woman:

“We can just as well face it. Songbird will never become a mainstream music player. Why? – because it’s interface is kinda like an insane Apple iTunes 4 + Netscape 7 mash up — as [are] it’s features. And honestly, it’s default feathers are black. Who does that!?

It preforms better as a Web browser than as a music player! It’s audio playback takes forever to start, but it can render a Web page in just a second. The audio library is just confusing.”

No End to iTunes, iPod Gravy Train?

My question to that question is: is that a bad thing?

“With nearly 9 million iPods sold last quarter, Apple’s Latest News about Apple iPod and iTunes gravy train doesn’t seem in danger of running off the rails anytime soon. The company’s CFO, Peter Oppenheimer, and COO, Tim Cook, ran down the key statistics during their quarterly conference call with analysts on Wednesday.

During his prepared remarks, Oppenheimer noted that music products represented 42 percent of Apple’s US$4.84 billion in revenue during last quarter, a 36 percent jump over the previous year’s fiscal fourth quarter. The release of new iPods on Sept. 12 helped, of course, as did a back-to-school promotion that helped clear out old inventory. Overall channel inventory of iPods is now four to six weeks, which is within the CFO’s comfort zone. The popular MP3 player is available at almost 40,000 places around the world, compared to the Mac product line, which is available in a little more than 7,000 locations. ”

Apple is in somewhat of a purple patch of late. What with the iPod selling so well, Apple has clearly hit a rich, long vein of form, which is arguably a continuation of the success of the iMac previously and presently.

For now, this is just me warming you up in prelude to an article that I have in mind. So stay tuned for that! Meanwhile…

Last.fm gets new features

The guys at Last.fm have been busy. And this industrious activity hasn’t gone unnoticed:

“Music recommendation service Last.fm relaunched this morning with a number of new features including a Flash player in addition to the desktop client, free MP3s available from independent artists and affiliate sales of recommended concert tickets … Also new to the site are free MP3s for listening to and downloading from independent music labels. The company says it offers music from 24,000 independent labels who have uploaded their music to Last.fm. There is not an option to opt out from having free MP3s recommended by the player.”

I’ve been on Last.fm for a while now and it’s pretty damned cool.

As a purely social tool, Last.fm is probably no better than any other forum-based social website. However, add into the mix a deeply musicallified (that’s a damn fine word, by the way) structure and you have something that interlinks and intertwines people and their musical tastes in ways not obvious until you begin to fool around.

By dipping into your neighbors library of listened-to tunes, you can move yourself quite naturally towards complementary genres in music that you might not have heard before.

Also, if you’re prepared to try something new and listen to a genre of music previously unknown to you, you’ll find the experience an easy and rewardingly simple exercise if not a productive one, assuming you don’t like what you hear.

In addition to all of this trying new music, talking about music and listening to interactive music stations on Last.fm, you can also buy music on Last.fm, too. Which is to be expected, really.

Best of all, it’s free. So mustn’t grumble, eh? Sounds good to me, anyway…

By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

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