App of the week: Cymbal


For the past couple of weeks I’ve been having a lot of fun with a recently-released app called Cymbal.

The best way to conceptualize this app is to think of it as an Instagram for music.

That is to say, anyone that has used the aforementioned photo sharing app will be right at home here. After creating an account, the most important interaction the user undertakes frequently is adding a “Cymbal”. Basically, what this entails is finding a song, writing a short sentence or two about it and adding hashtags to make it more discoverable.

Also like Instagram, you can follow people, though at this stage of its lifespan, your friends probably haven’t yet downloaded Cymbal. Thankfully, you can also follow well-known music publications and search for new music via user-submitted genre hashtags. In a smart move, Cymbal doesn’t license any of the music you can find on the app; instead, it relies on Spotify and Soundcloud, though, if there’s a limitation to the app, it’s that it currently only streams music from those two sources. If you don’t have a Spotify Premium account, then your experience will be severely diminished.

CymbalAll told, it’s a fun way to discover new music, and certainly solves the issue of music discovery in a much more elegant way than any of the mainstream streaming services. The app is also quickly gaining popularity. In its first week of availability, Cymbal was downloaded more than 17,000 times. Moreover, prior to launching, the company secured $1.1-million in startup capital, so new features should come quickly.

Besides being a compelling app, Cymbal has an interesting origin story, as well. The company behind the app was started by three undergraduate students from Boston’s Tufts University, Amadou Crooks, Gabriel Jacobs and Mario Gomez-Hall. Of the three co-founders, most people will be familiar with Jacobs, or at least they’ll be familiar with his work.

In the early days of Apple’s app store, Jacobs, then a teenager, became interested in coding. His first official release, Fart for Free, helped define the early days of Apple’s app marketplace; it was the first free farting app, and was downloaded several million times.

Suffice to say, his latest app is a much more, ahem, mature and refined effort.

Cymbal can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store. An Android version of the app is forthcoming.