Cymbal taps your friends to find new music

This newer social music discovery app helps you see what your friends are listening to and find new tunes.

Sarah Mitroff Managing Editor
Sarah Mitroff is a Managing Editor for CNET, overseeing our health, fitness and wellness section. Throughout her career, she's written about mobile tech, consumer tech, business and startups for Wired, MacWorld, PCWorld, and VentureBeat.
Expertise Tech, Health, Lifestyle
Sarah Mitroff
3 min read

Back in my day, the only places to discover a new song or album were the radio and Tower Records. Today, I don't have to look any farther than my phone thanks to Cymbal.

This up-and-coming social music discovery app wants to help you find new music through recommendations from your friends, artists and the community of music fans. It's available now for free on iOS, with Android coming soon.

Cymbal is essentially Instagram for music, but instead of posting pictures, you post songs from Spotify or SoundCloud. The app's main feed shows tracks (represented by the associated album cover) posted by friends and others you follow, and like Instagram you can scroll up and down to browse.

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Screenshots by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

While browsing the feed, tap the post's album art once to play the track, double tap to like it and tap the chat bubble to leave a comment. Songs play back to back in the feed, so you can treat it like a playlist is there's more than one song, which is my favorite feature. You can also save any song to your Cymbal profile, to your Spotify account or both.

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Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

To post songs, you search for a song within the app. The search will access Spotify's or SoundCloud's database for the track. Once it's found you can select it and add a caption if you wish. If you share a song from Spotify and your friends have a Spotify subscription, they'll be able to hear the full tune. Without a Spotify subscription, they'll only hear a short clip of the music. With SoundCloud songs, they'll be able to listen to the entire song.

Cymbal isn't the first to try to make music more social. Music streaming services Spotify, Rdio and others have social sharing features, most of which show you what your friends are playing or help you share music directly with them. By focusing entirely on sharing and discovery, Cymbal's more of a complement to those services, not a replacement.

Social networks have also tried to get more musical. Back in 2013, Twitter built #Music to help you discover new tunes from other people's tweets. It lasted roughly a year before shutting down.

Instagram introduced @music earlier this year, which is little more than an individual account run by the company that shares music and music-related photos.

After just a few days using the app, it's addicting to post songs, both to share them with friends and chronicle them for myself, so I remember what I was listening to and why.

It's easy to see that Cymbal stands a good chance of besting both Twitter's and Instagram's efforts to become a must-have app one everyone's phones. The app just needs mass adoption to make that happen.

Cymbal's already built a strong community of users, which range from regular music fans to artists, labels, college radio stations and venues.

These accounts are a good starting point, but I found that you need to follow a lot of people to keep your feed from getting stale. In order to do that, Cymbal will need more people to sign up and share music.