What is muso?
Muso acts as both a centralised information repository for your music collection, and an intuitive graphical user interface to allow you to browse your albums, tag them, filter them, and sort them in various flexible ways. Muso provides an alternative front end to your music player and allows you to experience a more meaningful interaction with your music collection.
What muso isn't
Muso is not a music player or playlist manager. There are many of these available already, with great features like wireless streaming to your hi-fi, bit-perfect output, graphic equalisers, stunning visualisers, smart playlists, and a myriad of plugins. Muso is not trying to compete with these, but muso can be used to queue music to your favourite player.
Currently we are supporting the following integrated players:
- Logitech Squeezebox devices - this is muso's preferred solution for streaming music to your hi-fi.
- Winamp - Winamp is muso's preferred solution when you want to play your music directly on your PC.
- iTunes - iTunes will continue to be your music player but muso will take over as a browser and as your music database. You can import your existing database from iTunes as a starting point for muso.
- Foobar2000 - beta test functionality only (eg. no feedback of Now Playing status information).
We may integrate other players in future (players which expose an open API could be added to this list).
Other non-integrated players can be used which support file drop operations (drag albums or tracks to that player).
So what's the point?
Muso's development was driven by need. While many players do a superb job of playing music, they invariably offer very little in terms of providing flexible access to your music collection, embed online information, or to allow you to quickly find music to match a given mood, scenario, or combination thereof. Muso fills that need, and much more. The focus is on the full music album as a browsing entity rather than the individual songs, and is the perfect solution for you if your collection is predominantly album based.
Frustrations with existing music players, managers and browsers influenced muso to include the following:
- An advanced Tagging feature, which enables you to tag albums (and tracks too if required) by Mood, Scenario, etc (all fully configurable) which you can then apply flexibly as filters. You can then queue the tracks which match your mood, or you can ask muso to queue some random tracks for you.
- Separating the wheat from the chaff - while the majority of your music collection may consist of full albums and EPs which you do want to see while browsing albums, the remainder is made up of odd tracks from other albums - and you may not want to see all these when you're browsing albums (though you can still access these single tracks of course).
- Collate albums (and group albums by Artist) properly - too often other music managers seem overly sensitive to file location, case sensitivity and minor variations in artist/album name, which often fragments albums or artists into several duplicates or near-duplicates. Muso attempts to address this automatically, and makes it easy to address anomalies by allowing the user to edit the database.
- Flexible Sorting/Grouping/Filtering - eg. to see your favourite albums of the year (or the decade) ordered by overall rank (based on your own track-by-track ratings), or to group albums by artist/genre/year/etc in a "Cloud" type view.
- Intuitive Context-Sensitive Navigation - eg. to quickly access other albums in your collection by the playing Artist, or by "similar" artists. Feeding the latest on-line metadata about an artist, album or track direcly into the music browser - for example song lyrics (provided by lyrdb.com), album reviews and similar albums (provided by Amazon web services), and artist/album information (provided by last.fm). More web content will probably be added later as more useful Web Services become available.
- Providing end-user configuration of the presentation - your favourite fonts can be easily specified, and the user can choose between pre-defined themes. Advanced users with knowledge of CSS can even create their own themes - which gives rise to the possibility of sharing them via the web community.
- Full support for half-star ratings.
- Comprehensive support for Classical Music - with track tags for Composer, Conductor, Ensemble (Orchestra), and Performer(s), it's easy to properly distinguish multiple versions of the same work.
- Ability to browse and read liner notes within the browser (requires images to be placed in album folders).
- Ability to generate a fast and responsive web enabled html catalogue with embedded youtube-instant links (examples here and here).
As stated above muso is not trying to compete with the established music players, the emphasis is on providing a centralised information repository for your music, and an intuitive and fluid graphical interface to access it. Once the song files are pushed to the chosen music player they are then under the control of that player (to do the things that it is good at : manipulating the playlist, shuffling, volume adjustment, equalisation, visualisation, etc etc). Muso is designed to work in harmony with your favourite player rather than hiding or replacing it. Shortcuts to the basic play functions of your player (play, pause, next track etc) are put on the muso toolbar, however, for convenience.
The user interface should be inherently familiar to all users - because it is designed to look and feel like a web browser. In fact, while muso is installed as a rich client application, the main browser content area is fully based on web technology (and will even embed appropriate internet content provided by web services).