Current Affairs

Oxford Students launch Sync for Spotify, a social music app

Serial co-founders and the two Oxford undergraduates behind Circle Labs Ltd, Julia Willemyns and Jack Solomon, have launched a new app: Sync for Spotify. Aiming to make music social, this free iOS app is designed to sync multiple people’s music to create a single smart playlist containing songs they both listen to. Their project is a crossover between a utility app and a social network.

Another feature is “geo-localised parties”, which allow you to see a whole city’s music taste, with parties active in Paris, London, Sydney, and New York City. They have already achieved thousands of downloads in over 15 countries.

The idea came to Willemyns and Solomon after numerous disputes over what music to play. In Willemyns’ words:

“Jack and I have really different music tastes – he is more of a Katy Perry fan and I vibe to Leon Bridges and Sufjan Stevens – and this caused a lot of friction in our relationship at first. We wanted to be able to work in the same room without complaining about the music that was playing.

“So, at first, we created a very simple app that just synced two people’s music and created a single playlist that combined all the music they both listened to. It was just a flashing ‘S’ for Sync at this point that did this very simple task. For the first couple weeks the only users were us two and my parents, and we didn’t even think to upload it onto the app store.

“But, having spoken to a couple friends, we quickly realised that we weren’t the only people struggling with this problem (flashback to pre-COVID days when we all fought for the aux cord).

“So, we expanded the services the app provides and completely redesigned it. The biggest change we made was we allowed for groups to Sync by joining parties. I think this is a particularly interesting service because it makes music more social. And music should be social. It’s exciting to look through the music you have in common with a friend or a group of friends. The magical moment we are looking for happens when you Sync with someone and you find you both love that obscure song that you discovered when you were fourteen (or a form of iteration of this).”

Sync is not the first project they have co-founded; in March this year, Circle Labs Ltd launched data-crowdsourcing app Find My Pasta in response to the nationwide stockpiling amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The function of this iOS app was to report and track supermarket food shortages.

Willemyns continues: “Our aim is to make music social, and our project is a crossover between a utility app and a social network. Sure, you may use Sync to just make cool playlists, but the app is built to have a social function as well. When you Sync with someone who has the app, they automatically become your friend and you can see what their top songs and artists are, who they Sync with and what parties they join. Looking forward, we may look into incorporating other more social aspects to the app.

We were actually quite surprised to see no equivalent exists. When we first thought of it we tried to see if there was anything that could solve our problem, but there was no app or website that synced two users’ data to create smart playlists; which is why we created Sync for Spotify in the first place.”

Sync is currently only available on the App Store. However, they are looking into developing an Android and desktop version if there is enough interest.

Phoebe Hennell

Phoebe Hennell is co-founder of The Oxford Blue, and former Managing Director. She is reading Philosophy and Modern Greek at Christ Church, and is on her year abroad in Athens.