What do you use to manage your music library? iTunes certainly is the popular choice, even on Windows. There are other options like Winamp, Songbird, Mediamonkey and Foobar just to name a few. I’ve used many of them and used to be a huge MediaMonkey fan. But I grew tired of MediaMonkey and wanted to find something new and better.
That’s when I stumbled across MusicBee — a powerful, but easy-to-use media player for your music. What attracted me to it was that it was something new (or at least new to me). What kept me, though, were the impressive features.
Playing Your Music
MusicBee has some great features to add into your music listening experience. What’s great about so many of it’s features is that it has them already without the need of installing plug-ins. First off, it connects directly with Last.fm so you can scrobble all of your music — which is very nice. Lyrics and album art come naturally to MusicBee. It has several different ways to display the song information, album art and lyrics, and I encourage you to explore them. Below are a couple of different set up options you can have.
In this view, the artist information, Now Playing and lyrics are displayed on the right side panel.
You can see in the view below that the artist information, along with lyrics and multiple links to the music online, are displayed in a single pane at the bottom of the media player.
As you can see, MusicBee gives you a ton of options, but in an interface that doesn’t make it overwhelming or confusing to use.
MusicBee supports all major music formats as well as conversion between them. You can automatically populate the Now Playing queue using rules from a tool called Auto DJ. You can also find new music right within MusicBee by setting Auto DJ to stream similar artists from Last.fm
It’s very easy to build your own playlists within MusicBee. You can also create auto-playlists and radio-style playlists. If you use a specific program, even like iTunes, to listen to your podcasts, MusicBee now covers that as well and automatically downloads any new episodes. There is access directly in the media player which allows you to connect to online radio stations and save your favorites.
Another feature that I was impressed by was the cataloging of Audiobooks within MusicBee. Not just that it can separate them from your other music, but it will remember where you left off and will pick up in the same place next time you want to listen. And just like audiobooks, podcasts and radio stations are kept separate from your music library.
Tagging and Managing Your Music
Tagging within MusicBee is a breeze. You can automatically organize library file names and structure, store new music in the Inbox until it is properly tagged, manage duplicates and create custom tags. MusicBee has an extensive tag editor and tag inspector that allows you to edit and view all tags. You can also filter the library to show different sections by specific criteria that you create. There is also an option to save custom searches when looking for tracks.
MusicBee has a unique tool that actually “listens” to the song to identify and tag it. It’s not flawless, but it works pretty good. Of course you can search for and download the appropriate album artwork as well. MusicBee also includes the capability to view upcoming album releases and concerts as well as accessing popular music blogs and stream new music directly in their feeds within MusicBee.
Get Social With Your Media Player
We’ve already discussed that MusicBee can scrobble to Last.fm, but with the Facebook app, Last.fm Scrobbler, you can also share what you listen to in MusicBee to your Facebook timeline. What’s posted is displayed in the “ticker” under “Recent Activity,” just like Spotify.
Go Partyin’ With Your Tunes
So you took your laptop to a friend’s party so you can listen to music and while you weren’t looking, some jerk messed with your computer. That wouldn’t have happened with MusicBee as it has a “lock” function that requires a set password to open.
This is great for parties, also if there’s kids in the house. Contrary to other media players with a similar function, the lock feature still allows guests to browse for and play music, but blocks access to settings within the media player as well as any access to your computer.
Sync and Rip Your Music
We’re constantly going places, so being able to access our music anywhere is a must. With MusicBee, you can easily synchronize your music to your mobile device. Whether you’re syncing to Android or iOS, MusicBee can do it. It also provides secure and accurate CD ripping and file conversion. MusicBee imports from iTunes and Windows Media Player and can monitor folders on your computer for new files added — so you’ll always have the most updated music in your library.
And don’t hate for the CD in the screen shot — it was the only CD I had with me that wasn’t in my car at the time.
Customize Your Experience Even More
I’ve already showed you some of the views that MusicBee can display, but there are many other skins and plugins available. Yes, plugins to do even more with MusicBee. What surprised me about it was that since installing it is that I haven’t needed any additional features (unlike most other media players) — it works and offers a plethora of features right out of the “box.”
MusicBee “Theater Mode”
Speaking of plugins, if you’re familiar with MiniLyrics or Subsonic, MusicBee supports both of those.
There are also options to switch from the Main Player to the Mini Player or Compact modes.
Although I think both of these views are very nice, I feel they are oddly named as the compact version is larger than the mini version. But once your used to it, it’s not an issue.
Another way to control the media player is right on the Windows Task Bar. What’s impressive here is that it’s not just the basic play/pause, next and previous controls, but it also includes up and down ratings as well as a “heart,” or a favorite, button for Last.fm.
More Advanced Options For Your Music
MusicBee has a ton of awesome features for everyone from the less-organized music fans, to the crazy, every-file-must-be-organized-correctly music fanatics, myself being one of them. Tools such as the 5-band Spectrum Visualizer, Smart Crossfade, Gapless Playback, 10-band Equalizer are going to satisfy even the biggest audiophiles since there is no need for any additional software. Below is the window for analyzing track volume.
Portability — Run MusicBee On Your Portable Device
MusicBee offers an executable file to download and run without any installation needed. This is excellent if you want to take all of your music with you or just manage some of your tunes on a portable hard drive or flash drive. It’s also nice if you prefer to skip the installation process on your computer and just run the executable.
I’ve just barely touched the tip of the ice berg on what MusicBee can do and the preferences that are available to you. However, I hope that this has helped you get started and built up some confidence to explore the program. You may feel a tad bit overwhelmed reading all of this, but once you download the program, you’ll find that it’s naturally very easy to use and there’s a very small learning curve. However, there honestly could be an entire guide written on the program, which speaking of guides, be sure to check out The Internet Music Guide For The Audiophile.
What programs have you tried to manage your music with? Do you use MusicBee? If so, what tips and tricks do you have to share? If this is your first time hearing about MusicBee, will you switch from what you’re currently using to listen to your music?
You can download MusicBee, only available for Windows, for free.