A Little Background
In the simplest terms, Songsterr is an archive of guitar, bass and drums tabs. Any person with internet access can contribute new tabs or make changes to existing tabs, and according to their website, it is impossible to cause damage, as the software allows for easy reversal of errors. According to Oleg Lyubchenko, marketing manager at Songsterr, “recently, we implemented error report tools, so everybody can report errors in tab, vote up or down error reports that look useful or not useful, flag inappropriate error reports for deletion by moderators, or report off-topic, abusive, low quality, duplicates, etc.” Have you ever looked over an online guitar tab and said to yourself, “What was this idiot thinking when he wrote this? It’s completely wrong!”
Unlike other archive sites such as Chordie, where incorrect tabs are legendary, prevalent, and remain available online until enough people complain, this doesn’t seem to be the case at Songsterr. Experienced Songsterr editors check all tabs to ensure accuracy, and, as stated earlier, participant members can easily report any errors that might slip through.
Songsterr debuted in August 2008, a curious and perhaps unlikely collaboration of Russian and American technology and ingenuity. Songsterr now receives millions of visitors on their website, Songsterr.com, each year, and features over 90,000 songs and more than 500,000 tabs. Very impressive numbers, indeed
Why Choose Songsterr?
To quote reviewer Jason Kincaid in his article on http://www.techcrunch.com, “One of the problems with typical guitar tablature is that it does a poor job representing rhythm and the duration that each note is played – both of which are essential.
To remedy this, most people play a recording of the original song as they examine a tab so they can figure out when to play each note. But this process is frustrating and time consuming. Songsterr skirts this issue by accompanying each song with an audio file that plays alongside of it.”
Songsterr Free and Plus
The Free plan gives one access to all tabs contained, and what is referred to as a “subset” of features; Playback, Mixer, Solo and Count In. One needn’t sign up for a Free plan to use the basics, but signing up will allow you to contribute to the archive and use favorites.
The Plus plan costs $9.90 per month and includes advanced player features, such as Print, Half Speed, Backing Tracks, Chromatic Tuner, Metronome, Focus Mode, Fullscreen, Loop, Tuner, and much more. Paid users can even download custom backing tracks now. Take it from me; you will want all the goodies paid membership provides.
And if you’re wondering whether Songsterr is legal, rest assured it is. The site’s paid subscribers allow Songsterr to pay royalties to artists, so everything is on the up and up. Unlike other tab sites that have been in and out of business, Songsterr isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
The Songsterr iPad App
And finally, Songsterr launched a tab player App for iPhone, iPod and iPad in April 2011, allowing instant access to realistic playbacks of over 500,000 songs directly from Songsterr.com.
For those wanting to learn how to play a song and learn the words to the song this is a particularly useful app. In fact, it is a must have app for that purpose. In my testing I found that this app is really just a link to the internet to the Songsterr web site as the exact songs and some of the functionality is available on their website. Using my computer I could do some of the same things on the web site without paying $4.99 by using the Songsterr free version.
When I tried to use my tablet browser it told me to get the app. This is because the site uses Adobe Flash to play the music and Flash is no longer available for most tablets. The app allows it to play on your tablet. This app is more like the Songsterr plus product.
Because of its use of the internet this app will not work without internet connection. The available list of songs is extensive and they will help any person wanting to learn new songs. This app is more like the Songsterr Plus version on the web. It is ad free, it allows you to control the speed, listen to the solo mode and play songs in a loop so you can practice a part of the song until you get it down. You can even add songs to your favorite lists. You can see the words to the songs. This is a nice teaching tool and I rated it at 5 stars.
* Modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
* Full network access
* Google Play License check
* Receive data from the internet
* View network connections
* Prevent tablet from sleeping
The app contains Google Analytics and Mixpanel that tracks the user’s behavior while they are using the app. It also uses Crashlytics to monitor the software so the other analytics programs are redundant and it makes them look like they are just used to monitor user behavior. The app also uses Google Cloud Messaging to send push messages and it could be used to send spam to a user.
The app installed 11.38MB into my device memory. I manually moved it to my SD card and it left 4.17MB in my device memory and transferred 9.25MB onto my SD card memory.
There is a section called ‘History’ with a list of tabs available for offline mode. You can access these songs not only from History, but also from other sections, such as most popular, tags, search and favorite. You don’t have to play the whole song; you just need to wait a few seconds while the whole track is being uploaded to your device. “Also recently, in partnership with Jamplay.com, we launched a new section called Lessons in an iPhone version. This section gives you access to a few series of video guitar lessons.”
While Songsterr has taken off like the proverbial rocket ship, there have been the inevitable detractors who compare and contrast Songsterr to older tab sites such as Ultimate Guitar and Guitar Pro. Having navigated through several of them myself, it appears those criticisms may have been unfounded. I particularly liked the rhythm notation and streaming audio file features on Songsterr, and found these to be very useful in helping me get a handle on certain tabs.