Since I last spoke with the founders of the music-sharing app, Cymbal, a slew of things have changed: the app hit the app store; the team has gained funding, features, and personnel (Charlie Kaplan, the head of growth and operations); and they changed their name from the original Anthem.
As a quick reminder, Cymbal is a music-sharing app powered not by algorithms but by your friends (or anyone you follow) and beautiful hi-res cover art – an Instagram for music. In my previous article on Cymbal, I introduced the founders, then Tufts undergraduates, now graduates, Gabe Jacobs, Amadou Crookes and Mario Gomez-Hall, and walked through the app as well as what led them to create it. For this article, I caught up with the newly-unleashed-upon-the-real-world founders and newly minted “BetaBoston ’25 under 25′ winners for 2015” to see what three months of hard work has brought them.
After spending some deserved R&R with their families post-graduation, the founders promptly moved into their first office. Following months of moseying between classrooms and cafes to get work done they are ecstatic to finally have their own space.
“We feel like a real company now and it’s a strange thing to say out loud,” says Jacobs. The office is modest – a few desks and chairs in a “thankfully air-conditioned room,” says Gomez-Hall. Despite it’s humble decoration, “the space allows [them] to really focus and crank on new features and tweaks,.” according to Gomez-Hall.
“We’re actually really into Cymbal now,” says Gomez-Hall concerning the new name. Giving up on the name Anthem was not easy, but necessary. The name was trademarked by another company in the music world with a history of litigation. Instead, they’ve got a play on words as the songs you share, “are a snapshot of you at this moment, [they] symbolize you,” Gomez-Hall says noting the obvious, but apt pun.
The launch of the app was quiet, as the founders felt many features still needed to be added. But the response was impressive nonetheless with thousands of downloads logged and over 70 five star reviews amassed.
Still, the founders are well aware that satisfaction does not equal satiation. In the months since launch many new features have found their way into the app, such as the ability to see if you were the first person to share a song (and if not, to see who else has), to control song playback, to create a bio and to discover other users (categorized by their affiliation including publication, artist, venue, emerging user or influencer). The founders also promised an Android version coming soon.
What else are users clamoring for?
“People really want the ability to shuffle through songs on their main feed, favorites and on their profile [where all your previously posted Cymbals accumulate] – and on a similar note, they want to be able to queue songs, something that’d be great for crafting the ultimate playlist on the go,” says Gomez-Hall.
Those features are planned for part of a big 2.0 update coming later this fall and would represent a huge leap for Cymbal – it would transcend being a discovery tool and become a great place to also listen to music without needing to involve other services or apps. Because Cymbal encourages users to post the best of the best, the “playlists” created on user’s main feeds would be brilliant in-the-moment playlists while the accumulated cymbals on each user’s personal profile would be a top-notch personal playlist. When taken as a whole, the 100 or so Cymbals I’ve posted comprise one of the best playlists I’ve ever made!
Not every user requested feature will make it into future versions though, as some may compromise the founders vision for the app. For instance, some users have asked for the ability to repost other people’s Cymbals as their own. The founders have discussed this at length and for now, decided to leave this feature on the chopping block fearing that it would turn the platform from a place of discovery into a place where top-40 takes over.
Not content to stop there, the founders have also added the ability to share Cymbals with friends via SMS, email, Facebook,Twitter and Instagram allowing your friends to listen to your favorite song of the moment even if they don’t have the app.
A huge growth prospect for Cymbal comes in the ability to capture bigger names as Cymbal creators or curators. With that in mind, Cymbal is actively recruiting popular blogs, artists and even venues to join their platform and be a verified user – much like on Twitter or Instagram – though it’s not without its challenges.
“Getting artists is tough,” remarked Jacobs, “but Cymbal is a celebration of music and that means we need to get the artists themselves involved.”
Despite the hurdle of getting artists on the platform, some notable artists including Jamie Lidell, Holychild, Beat Connection, No Sleep and Tommie Sunshine have signed up. Publications like The Needle Drop (who gave Cymbal a shoutout in his recent review of Ratatat’s new album), Salacious Sound, EDM.com and of course, Sound of Boston, along with venues like Electric Zoo are also on board. Individual users can get their own type of verification by being an influencer or featured user for a week (denoted by a purple check mark).
Though they’ve accomplished much in a short span of time, the founders do not intend to rest on their laurels. In addition to the Android version promised earlier, Crookes mentioned that they were surprised by how many people asked for Cymbal to be available on their computers.
“People spend so much time in front of their computers whether that be studying, working, or playing around on the internet, so we want to get Cymbal up and running on people’s computers.”
It’s a long-range goal, as they want to nail the experience on iOS and Android first, but rest assured, a web app is an eventuality.
Cymbal continues to grow and prove that the best source of fresh music can be your friends – and of course, it doesn’t hurt to have your favorite blogs and artists sharing songs as well.
You can find Cymbal on the Apple App Store, visit the Cymbal website to learn more about the app and help them stay on top of Product Hunt. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.