Rhythmbox, the Ubuntu Music Player
Although double-clicking on media files opens Totem, the Ubuntu media player, your best bet for really listening and organizing a music collection is Rhythmbox. People have told me that Rhythmbox looks a lot like iTunes, and I guess I agree based on this screenshot from Softpedia.
Start Rhythmbox at Applications ->; Sound and Video ->; Rhythmbox Music Player.
What File Formats Can Rhythmbox Play?If you completed these instructions in Playing Movies in Ubuntu then you can skip this section.
Rhythmbox can play any format which GStreamer recognizes. Unfortunately, GStreamer recognizes very few formats in its default configuration. Just like in WindowsXP, you need to install many codecs in order to play the hundreds of forms of multimedia that exist. I'll tell you how to do that in a few seconds. First, a little aside.
Why doesn't Rhythmbox play MP3 files by default?Codecs are a tricky thing. Many codecs are free to download but must be paid for in order to distribute them. Since Ubuntu is a free piece of software and gives me the right to distribute it to other for free or at any price I choose, it can't legally distribute many codecs, and they must be downloaded after installation. Some codecs, such as Windows Media Player audio and video codecs, require a license of Microsoft Windows in order to install them. Some things, like the CSS codes for encrypted DVDs, are illegal to have in the U.S. Most of the codecs you'll need are available for download from the unsupported side of Ubuntu, but a couple actually require you to download from outside areas which respect the DMCA and similar laws. You decide how far you want to go to play media files.
Adding Software SourcesIn order to make the download and install process as easy as possible, we need to make sure that the Ubuntu system knows where to get the codecs from. These locations are called repositories, and we'll add them using the Software Sources application. Click on System -> Administration -> Software Sources, input your password, and you should get a dialog which looks like the one below.
Importing Your Music Library
When you first start Rhythmbox, it will ask you for the location of your music collection, which it will index for you. The metadata tags in the files will be parsed by genre, artist, album, title, and track number. If you already skipped that step or want to change your location, you can do that at Edit -> Preferences. The main tab (pictured above) allows you to choose where the program looks for your music and where new music is stored. You should check "Watch my library ..." just to be safe. Turn it off if you notice strange behavior from the player. You can also choose the library structure, which will help the program guess at program data if none exists.
Playing Your Music
At the top of the music player, just under the menu system, is an intuitive set of controls for playing. Use the Genre, Artist, and Album selection boxes to limit the view of your music library. Clicking play will start the selected song, the first song if none are selected, or a random song if none are selected and Shuffle is on. The next song will be one of those in the current view unless there is a play queue. Add songs to the play queue by right clicking on a song and choosing "Add to Play Queue."
There is no stop or pause button. Stop or pause a track by clicking on the Play button.
Getting and Playing Podcasts
Rhythmbox has the ability to keep a podcast library for you. Once you find a podcast you like, right click on the Podcasts line in the Source pane of the Rhythmbox player and click "New Podcast Feed." Copy the feed URL and paste it into the New Feed text box. Rhythmbox will automatically look for the latest podcasts and download them in the background for you to play at your convenience. Set up where Rhythmbox saves the podcasts and how often it checks for updates using the Edit -> Preferences dialog.
What is a Podcast?The word podcast was made popular by the iPod, which allows you to automatically download new audio blogs from sources that you find interesting. The term has widened to include any audio blog recording. Most of the time, these recordings come in the form of MP3s. You can find podcasts at Podcast.net.
Playing Internet RadioYou can listen to radio streamed from radio stations across the world. Whether you're interested in news, weather, or music, there are plenty to choose from. Find a radio station at Wikipedia, copy the stream URL, right click on "Radio Stations" in your Rhythmbox Music Player, click "New Internet Radio Station," then paste the stream URL into the text box and click enter. The radio station will appear in your list of stations. Modify the name and genre by right clicking on the radio station and choosing Properties. Click play and listen to your selected station. It's that easy.
What is Internet Radio?Wikipedia states:
Internet radio (aka e-Radio) is an audio broadcasting service transmitted via the Internet. Broadcasting on the Internet is usually referred to as webcasting since it is not transmitted broadly through wireless means but is delivered over the World Wide Web. The term "e-Radio" suggests a streaming media that presents listeners with a continuous stream of audio to which they have no control much like traditional broadcast media. It is not synonymous with podcasting which involves downloading and therefore copyright issues. Nor does e-Radio suggest "on-demand" file serving. Many Internet "radio stations" are associated with a corresponding traditional "terrestrial" radio station or radio network. Internet-only radio stations are usually independent of such associations.
Extending Rhythbox with Plugins
Magnatune Music StoreMagnatune Store offers iTunes-style song previews and paid downloads. They have quality independent artists. You are allowed to listen to all streamed music for free in a try-before-you-buy arrangement. If you like an artist enough to want top-quality versions of the music, you can purchase an album for US$8 by right-clicking on a song in the album, chosing your format, and handing over your credit card information. I suggest downloading in FLAC format because it is lossless, so you get the best possible quality when you convert to other formats.
Last.fm Music Recommendation SystemLast.fm is a radio station and more. It helps people out by figuring out your musical tastes (based on what you listen to) and recommending new music to you. From the Last.fm website:
Scrobbling a song means that when you listen to it, the name of the song is sent to Last.fm and added to your music profile.
Once you've signed up and downloaded Last.fm, you can scrobble songs you listen to on your computer or iPod automatically. Start scrobbling yourself, and see what artists you really listen to the most. Songs you listen to will also appear on your Last.fm profile page for others to see.
Millions of songs are scrobbled every day. This data helps Last.fm to organise and recommend music to people; we use it to create personalised radio stations, and a lot more besides.
DAAP Music SharingIf you have ever used iTunes and an iPod on a network, you know that you can listen to other people's music. It's discovered automatically for you. The method by which it is shared is called DAAP, and this plugin allows you to share your music with other iTunes and iPod users. As a side benefit, you also share your music with other DAAP-aware music players, of which there are many on Linux. Go ahead. Share. Your mother and your kindergarten teacher told you to.
Any shared music available on your network will appear in the left-hand pane of Rhythmbox.