Music means many things to many people, and it can be a great way to meet or get to know each other. Or, it was in better times. With concerts that are basically dead, the odds of bumping into someone at the bar during a show and hitting it are basically zero. But a new app called Vinylly uses your Spotify data to match you with other people with similar musical tastes – or at least that’s the claim. In practice, my paper jams are for niche, or the app needs some work.
Vinylly has been available on the iPhone since last year, but it landed on Android just last month, and in short, it’s a dating app with a twist: it’s all based on how well your Spotify data matches others’. In case it is not completely clear, it means that you need a Spotify account to use it, and that automatic data harvesting saves you a lot of time by pressing preferences. However, the focus also means that other romance-important details such as religion and political affiliation may not match, which may be a problem later.
The app is not that difficult to use, although there are a few issues. In general, just connect to your Spotify account (which is very easy if you have the app installed and logged in), and tap the questions to set up your profile. The last part could withstand a bit of polishing – one step to choose the location on your profile means scrolling through what must be a hundred options to get to the bottom of the list and pressing “next” to continue. It should probably be a floating button or something built into a navigation bar.
The app can also match you with partners across a variety of relationship types and identities. If you just want someone to go to concerts and share music with, it’s an option, but you can also target informal relationships or even something serious.
However, some of the details you decide on during the setup are a bit misleading. For example, the app asks what format your first purchase was in. That’s a simple question, right? Well, when you check out your profile, it’s marked your “audio preference”, which is a whole other thing, and there are a few inconsistencies like this that should be adjusted by the developers. Shooting Vinylly after being squeezed out of memory or killed also flashes a bunch of weird interstitial screens, plus a certain holo-era loading text.
The interface for the app itself is actually a bit sweet and in line with the musical theme. You do not swipe left / right or heart, you “shuffle” and “fast forward” and “play” them. Relative musical compatibility is indicated by the volume slider at the bottom – or at least the app claims to be the case. I actually never saw it move from the dead center.
Every single match was 50% – and no, I do not like My Chemical Romance.
Relatives had many of the people I was advised to contact musical tastes that varied quite drastically from my own. If and when you stumble across someone with similar tastes – which actually seems difficult, but maybe I’m just interested in weird stuff – pressing the dead center “Play” button not only indicates a potential match; you will also be asked to send them a message. Wallflowers must gather the courage to at least tap on one of the pre-made suggestions, but you can also dismiss custom messages.
Some of the messaging options take the overly reductive installation process to the extreme. “Hi Natalie, have you heard anything good? Indie lately? “Although I’m far from an online dating expert (never had it, thankfully), I have to assume that writing your own message will be less difficult than the options you get. You can access your conversations – progress via the grid-like icon top left of the default view, top right takes you to your profile and app settings.
This is where my hands-on ends. Most importantly, I have a boyfriend. But also key: No one has responded to my messages in the last hour, so I can not be sure how the rest of the app works in practice.
The app also has a clear revenue recognition model. In the future, features like chat will require a paid “Gold” premium subscription, although developers have done so for free so far. There are some benefits beyond just hiding the basic features behind a payroll wall. The app actually has a built-in tool that allows matches to select virtual concert dates, which is a nice touch.
I personally spend 4-8 hours on a given day listening to music while I work away, and those are probably beginner numbers compared to some. Vinylly may be a bit buggy, and it may not have done a very good job matching people, but I can see that this app is popular. Music is a big part of many of our lives, and Vinylly lets you share that experience with others.