Is Cymbal Really Instagram for Music?

Marc Snitzer
October 13, 2015

I have a hard time sharing music with people.

Hold on. That’s not true at all, actually. I’m usually that friend who’s yelling at everyone else in the car and grabbing the aux cord, shoving whichever record I’m currently wearing out in everyone else’s ears, or texting my brother twice a week to see if he checked out a song I sent him yet and what he thinks about it.

What I mean is that I have a hard time sharing music with people online. It’s one thing to join a message board or use services like Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music or (the now-antiquated) Those are platforms that boast a myriad of ways to discover and share new music (Spotify’s Discover Weekly is especially impressive), but they’re all primarily based on algorithms, tricky computer science, 1s and 0s and all of that junk.

There’s a social, human element missing from music and music-streaming services, the kind of sharing, exchanging (and humblebragging) of statuses, photos, videos and stuff that makes up our activity on the platforms and apps we use so often that they have become secondary thoughts.

But Cymbal thinks it can change that.

OK, so what is Cymbal?

Great question.

Cymbal is a fairly new social network (it launched in May), aimed solely at sharing and discovering music with friends. It’s structured very similarly to Instagram, where your timeline consists of recent songs from those you follow. But rather than uploading images, users can search for a song (the app plugs in track streaming from Spotify and Soundcloud) and Cymbal will cleanly bridge the gap.

So: I can fire this bad boy up (iOS only, for now), scroll through my feed, and tap on a track a friend recently uploaded and gee whiz, I am immediately listening to a brand new jam, without leaving the app. This way, I’m essentially getting music recommendations from friends and other folks whose tastes I care about in the same way we curate our Instagram feeds. Users can also interact with song posts by liking and commenting. (And for added incentive, trophies are awarded to those who upload a song for the first time on Cymbal.)

This is what my user page looks like. Follow me, please.

What’s so important about that?

Well, Cymbal believes that format and aesthetics are key to social networks, and I’m inclined to agree.

Similar to apps solely dedicated to sharing specific pieces of content (like, again, Instagram), music hasn’t exactly had a strong and organized structure in the world of social media. I can post a YouTube video of online casino a song I love onto my Facebook page. I can tweet a link to a Spotify playlist I just made. But there’s so much cross-pollination there that it is likely my friends or followers will pass it over. On Cymbal, I know why my followers are there.

It’s the same reason why I’m there: I’m looking for new tunes. And to show off whatever I’m listening to currently.

And it helps that Cymbal is designed in a way that we are familiar and comfortable with, where album art acts as the medium of exchange. It’s almost like I’m digitally hanging out with my friends and swapping records with one another. It’s cool. Get into it.

How can musicians and labels benefit from Cymbal?

Glad you asked. Like our other favorite social networks, Cymbal has carved out a space for verified musicians, record labels, music venues and influencers, i.e. music publications, critics, celebrities and the like.

Looks like Chloë Grace Moretz is into Earl Sweatshirt. Cool.

From a pure marketing perspective, every musician should be active on Cymbal, whether they’re engaging with other users who upload their music, or crafting their own timelines. It’s a space for record labels to showcase their catalogues in a way that feels organic. In a space that’s so purely dedicated to one type of content (and because that content is music, and the people who are into really into collecting and cataloguing their music are usually huge dorks), the returns would be major.

For instance, if I uploaded a song by The National, only to find The National liking and commenting on my upload, I’d likely lose my shit. And it would feel more personal than through a less focused social network.

Since launching in May, Cymbal has already shown tremendous growth. It’s still in its infancy, however. I don’t believe we’re going to see the app come close to its full potential until its user base continues to expand. So download Cymbal (and follow me; my username is marcsnitz), give it a spin, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.