7 free apps and services for sharing and managing music

Boost your audio experience with the free MixTape.me, Mojo, SharePod, and TuneUp, among other downloads and services -- whether you use iTunes or not.

Here are seven services and apps that can help you wrangle your audio files. Though you won't find any sources offering gobs of free songs (thanks, RIAA), you may be surprised at the number of free tools that are available to improve the way you listen to music.

BEST BET Early adopters should consider Songbird, a new open-source downloadable media player that's completely customizable and jam-packed with inventive features. Songbird is both a music player and a Web browser, so you can easily add songs to your local library directly from music blogs while you read about the music.

If you're ready to move your music life to the cloud, new Web service MixTape.me lets you create, listen to, and share playlists with anyone over the Internet. It sports the look and feel of a desktop player but exploits the flexibility of the Web, integrating artist bios, lyrics, and music videos so that you can learn about the music you’re listening to while it’s playing. (Full disclosure: MixTape.me is the pet project of author Adam Pash.)

iTunes is notoriously stingy about sharing. The Mojo download makes sharing iTunes libraries among friends who aren't on the same local network simple. No matter where your friends' music sits, you can easily download songs and playlists through Mojo.

Do you love a good blog? Do you find synthesized speech soothing? PimpMyNews (registration required) is a service that converts posts from your favorite blog into an audio podcast for "reading" on the go.

Consider completely transforming your aging iPod or other MP3 player with Rockbox, downloadable MP3-player firmware that breathes new life into a player.

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If your iPod is the main reason you use iTunes, consider SharePod, a free download that copies songs between your iPod or iPhone and your PC for iTunes-free iPod music management.

Not ready to abandon the comfort of Apple's popular iTunes player? You can still beef up its features. Download TuneUp and clean your messy iTunes metadata on Mac or PC. It automatically adds correct song information and album art.

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Adam Pash

PC World (US online)

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