Designer
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Cymbal

Cymbal started out as a fun little side project my senior year at Tufts. We figured we could use it to keep up with each other's music once we graduated and moved apart.

It's a social network for songs - you share your favorite song of the moment, follow friends + bands + blogs, and get a new playlist every day from the people that matter. Songs are shared from Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud. Over time, the app has focused more on the interest-graph over the social-graph. 2.0 was the peak version of a social network. 3.0 was more of a "reddit-for-music" model.

Cymbal's launch was covered by Forbes, Vice, CNET, The Next Web, Pigeons & Planes, and a few others. Some fun podcasts I was on to talk about Cymbal are listenable at KVRX Austin and Modern Vinyl. I even won a BetaBoston (Boston Globe) "25 Under 25" award when Cymbal launched! That felt cool.

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Hybrid Tab Bar

Hybrid Tab Bar

I was frustrated with the hamburger menu in Spotify and stacked player+tab bar in Apple Music. I knew there had to be a better way. This design is the best of both worlds - it informs you of what's playing, allows quick access to the player, and has all the benefits of a traditional tab bar (multitasking within app, fast navigation, simple to understand).

Cymbal's home page

Cymbal's home page

A chronological feed of your network's current favorite songs. Follow friends, bands, blogs, college radio stations, record labels, and more to get a new playlist every day.

The Player

The Player

A unique tab bar/player hybrid lets you navigate the app, see what's currently playing, and open/close the player with a tap or swipe. The full player view is minimal but full-featured.

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Following Hashtags

Following Hashtags

All new social networks face the same problem -- nobody wants to use an app their friends aren't on, so anyone who joins needs to enjoy themselves long enough for the rest of their network to catch up. Hashtags were a big focus of ours for this reason.

We made hashtags mimic friends in the feed, showing you the current most popular song in #hiphop, for instance. It was like having a friend who was an expert in each type of music.

Trending Now

Trending Now

Speaking of hashtags: to drive people toward public communities of like-minded listeners, we indicated when a song shared by a friend was trending somewhere else. Your friend was effectively evangelizing for a world of music.

Your Spotify Library in Cymbal

Your Spotify Library in Cymbal

There were a lot of philosophical debates about what Cymbal was. We didn't want it to be an auto-scrobbler, like last.fm or early Spotify social features, where your most embarrassing tastes were on display for all to see. But we also couldn't make sharing too hard. We wanted it to be meaningful, but any friction we could take away from the process while still maintaining meaning was worth it. We started showing your Spotify library while posting and it was a huge success. Sharing vastly increased - turned out people wanted to share but didn't know what.

Suggested Hashtags

Suggested Hashtags

Another super successful feature was suggested hashtags. Basically, our users did a bunch of hard work for us and tagged songs into their correct communities (Kendrick into #hiphop, Weezer into #rock, Jay Som into #bedroompop, etc.) This compounded with each new user sharing the same song or artist, ensuring we knew with high confidence that Radiohead was playing #Coachella, for instance. Similar to a CAPTCHA, because enough users tagged it, we knew it was true without having to verify it ourselves.

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Hashtag as Community Playlists

Hashtag as Community Playlists

Your Profile

Your Profile

Admittedly a ripoff of Instagram, I took what worked well and improved upon it with a collapsing nav bar that gave way to more space for the content while still providing view controls.

A hidden feature - tapping the "202 cymbals" tab allows a user to see the cymbals in a full-sized card view. Tapping again returns back to thumbnail.

Our goal was to make the current Cymbal the focal point while not pushing the rest off screen. This design made updating your cymbal feel special, and evoked displaying vinyl proudly.

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Share Your Profile

Share Your Profile

Our take on the traditional "Invite Friends" feature present in most social apps. Rather than just sharing a standard "I'm on X app, come join me," we instead made it more about showing off your taste externally and making friends off-network feel like they're missing out. An added benefit - each time you posted a new song, your Last 9 image changed, encouraging re-shares.

Discover People

Discover People

While we were happy to let you find friends through traditional social networks, we focused our emphasis on helping you find your musical soulmates already on the app. We showed people with the most number of artists you yourself shared, while ensuring that number was only in relation to their total number of posts (otherwise, we'd connect you with people who just shared a ton). We made sure to only show users who had posted recently.

 Anyone who's shared an artist must really like them, so it was quick to scan album art visually and recognize your favorite artists, but we included an expanded list view of all the artists you had in common with each user.

Anyone who's shared an artist must really like them, so it was quick to scan album art visually and recognize your favorite artists, but we included an expanded list view of all the artists you had in common with each user.

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Explore

Explore

Simple, to-the-point explore section where we showed what was currently popular on the app. Popular hashtags (playlists) and a top songs chart. Initially, this also had an editorial carousel with announcements, exclusive content, and more, but it wasn't worth the time - few users paid attention to it.

Comments

Comments

Songs that trended ended up having rich conversations on them, with people sharing thoughts, interesting facts, and links. This was later expanded upon greatly in Cymbal 3.0

External Sharing

External Sharing

One tap let you share a song to a multitude of popular networks, gave you a preview of what you were sharing, and let you toggle between an image and a video/audio-clip (when allowed by the streaming service)

Other Sharers

Other Sharers

Love a song? See a list of every person on Cymbal who shared it, in chronological order (first!) Imagine finding the one other person in the world who is as obsessed with that song as you are. In 3.0, we expanded upon this to sort the list by most recommended for you, and indicated if a friend had shared that song.

 a fun little feature - we showed whose song you were listening to on the iOS homescreen through a small hack

a fun little feature - we showed whose song you were listening to on the iOS homescreen through a small hack

Cymbal 1.0 Launch Promo Video

Cymbal 1.5 Demo

Apologies for the sped-up video. This was submitted to a competition and the videos had to be under 2 minutes ;)

Cymbal 1.0 Overview

Back when it was called "anthem" -- before we got a cease-and-decist :)