Cymbal / All screenshots by the author
[Ed. note: Welcome to Teen Time!, our column where we make a real live teenager do stuff in the name of journalism. In the past, we've had our teen review Apple Music, ask his teachers about music, and review the music at the mall. This week, he contacted us to tell us he wanted to write about an app we had never heard of. Since teens know more about apps than anyone, we told him to go ahead.]
My friends kept telling me to download Cymbal, the nascent music app that’s been called “Instagram for Music,” so we all could gather new music based on each others’ tastes. I’d agree to do it, but, since I’ve never been that zealous about apps, I'd forget to follow through. However, while I was in my friend’s basement, I finally got the app—since everyone I was with was on it at the time. As an homage to Nick Sullivan, the guy who once took pictures of me running around a mall (he has an account), I made my username Nicksull69.
Follow me. This is my info.
Cymbal lets users post tracks with the option to add their own comments/hashtags, and others can respond by “hearting” the tracks and/or commenting on them; searching for hashtags and other users to follow are also features. With these Instagram-esque components, it’s apparent that socializing in a minimalist, music-themed format is the app’s purpose, making Cymbal a simpler, more welcoming alternative to, say, Spotify's social functions or Last.fm. Tracks can be posted via Soundcloud or Spotify, but only Soundcloud allows “Cymbal-ed” tracks to be streamed entirely (unless you have Spotify mobile, in which case Spotify-ed posts can be streamed entirely too).
I’ve been carrying the app for a little over a week. Here’s what I’ve learned with Cymbal since Nicksull69’s creation:
Making business happen.
Just because I’m a “teen celeb,” doesn’t mean I get “everything I want”
Big time Hollywood superstar Chloe Grace Moretz was offered to have her Cymbal profile “featured.” I asked for my profile to be “featured” also, but to no avail. Whatever. What doesn’t kill me makes me doper.
Chloe Grace Moretz likes Small Black, who likes Neu!
Moretz “Cymbal-ed” the track “Boys Life” by Small Black, who have a Cymbal account. And since Small Black “Cymbal-ed” seminal German outfit Neu!’s “Hallogallo,” it means Moretz is that much closer to going through a krautrock phase.
You can get awards
If you’re the first person ever to post a certain track on Cymbal, you’re endowed a cute little trophy, because making history shouldn’t go without some form of congrats.
No troll zone.
I confused Nick’s brother
Don’t worry; we cleared everything up in person.
Jamie XX is popular here
Woah, hey there.
White Zombie isn’t that popular here
What?! Only two people, including me, have “Cymbal-ed” “More Human Than Human?”
Nice #metal on here
Among more #lifestyle-friendly hashtags such as #goodmusic and #vibes, there’s the righteous #metal. It’s not a barrage of trite bad genre picks like Avenged Sevenfold or As I Lay Dying but instead holds a multitude of pretty refined stuff. There’s Faith No More, Burzum, new Deafheaven, and a bunch of other vertiginous picks on #metal.
Showing off your favorite tunes is loads of fun with Cymbal, but, like Instagram, it can get addictive. I’d be fine with posting William Basinski and Bell Witch constantly, as long as I wasn’t so hung up on coming off like a tech-compulsive irritant (with already 30 Cymbal posts in around a week, I’m starting to feel like one). One technical downside to the app is that there isn’t a place to search for already-“Cymbal-ed” tracks, meaning I have to post a song to find out whether or not I’m the first ever to do so (I need instant reassurance that I’m unique, so this troubles me immeasurably).
Cymbal celebrates simplicity with its bare features, something rare in the current music-streaming landscape. And incorporating the social media elements akin to Instagram renders the app very inviting. I have my superficial goals and qualms, but hey, this is a pretty chill app.
Eli Zeger is Noisey's Teen. Follow him on Twitter.