Digitizing the aux cord: ‘Vibe’ app is coming to the 5Cs

Three female college students hold out their phones to the camera, displaying the vibe app.
Adeline Yu PO ’21, Nanea Haynes PO ’21 and Eve Bishop PO ’21 discuss the upcoming launch of Vibe, an app that aims to “digitize the Aux cord” on Oct. 10. (Stella Favaro • The Student Life)

The way humans experience music is rapidly changing. From the days of sitting around a record player to car rides with the radio constantly playing, music used to be grounded in community listening. 

Nowadays, as people plug in their headphones and shut out the rest of the world, listening to music has become an increasingly isolated and individualistic experience.

That’s where Vibe comes in. A smartphone app, Vibe allows students to log in through their Apple Music and Spotify Premium accounts and share entire music libraries and favorite artists under their user profile, regardless of what streaming platform they use. 

After the successful launch at Duke in April, the Vibe team wanted to test the app out in different student environments, which is why an updated version of the app will re-launch at the 5Cs and the University of Southern California on Oct. 20, according to a post on their Facebook page.

In the words of Vibe, one of their major goals is to “digitiz[e] the aux cord.” Eve Bishop PO ’21, the program head of the Vibe College Ambassador Program at the Claremont Colleges, explained the motivation of Vibe is to revive people’s desire to interact across music tastes.

“We were inspired by the idea of being in the car with friends and listening to music, and how that’s a really great way to get to know your friends’ music tastes and discover music from all the different people that you’re with,” she said.

Vibe was founded by a group of Duke University students in September 2018. When creating the app, the founders recognized that, while most music listeners use Apple Music or Spotify, there wasn’t an effective way to share music across those two platforms. Not only this, but both apps don’t offer users many useful ways to discover new music.

“On Spotify and Apple Music, a lot of the ways to discover new music are either through hearing a playlist that’s made by strangers or [through] algorithms designed to show you music that the specific algorithm thinks you’ll like,” Bishop said. “But it’s very impersonal. Vibe is taking music discovery … and making it more of a friend-to-friend experience.”

Bishop was quick to diffuse any comparisons of Vibe with other music streaming platforms.

“We are not trying to replace Spotify or Apple Music — we’re really just an extension of them,” she said. “We’re just trying to better the experience of listening to music on these platforms.” 

With a Vibe account, each user has their own personalized “Lineup,” a list of 10 to 20 artists that the user feels best represents their music taste. Vibe members can discover other people’s music by looking at another member’s Lineup and clicking on each artist to see the friend’s favorite songs from the selected artist.

Concerning Vibe’s launch at the 5Cs, Bishop said she’s excited about the opportunity to take music listening, which she considers a currently independent activity, and turn it into a vehicle for communal bonding and sharing.

“Music is so important to so many people, especially college students,” she said. “But I also feel like it’s so private because there’s not a simple way to share it, so I think [Vibe] will be a really interesting way for friends to connect on deeper levels.”

Vibe’s initial launch at Duke University was met with substantial student involvement.

“[The Duke launch] proved to be super successful,” Bishop said. “[We] got one out of every five Duke students to download the app, so that was over 1,000 Duke students who got on the app in under a month.”

While Vibe thrived at Duke, a mid-sized university, the app’s team wants to understand how the app will fare at both small liberal arts colleges and large research institutions like USC.

“This is another pilot run … so that in the future, when we launch [at] other schools, we’ll know exactly how to tackle anything from a small liberal arts community to a big party school,” Bishop said. 

A major reason for Vibe’s success at Duke was the app’s College Ambassador Program, a team of students from the university whose aim was to spread the word about Vibe across campus. 

Nanea Haynes PO ’21, head recruiter of the Vibe Ambassador Program at the 5Cs, believes Vibe Ambassadors can help elevate the voices of student artists. 

“The ideal Vibe ambassador would be in touch with the school’s music community,” she said. “If a student has their music on Spotify or Apple Music, they’d be able to put that on their Lineup, so we can help market student artists as well.”

After learning about app, Samir Kothari PZ ’20 was excited about the possibility of Vibe coming to the 5Cs. 

“The main appeal is definitely that it’ll bring communities closer,” he said. “Maybe a gap that might have existed between two people meeting might be merged by something as simple as having two songs in common in your top 20.”

Along with its launch date on Oct. 20, Vibe will also be hosting a launch party on Oct. 25 at Doms Lounge at Pomona College. For more information about Vibe, visit vibemusicapp.com or their Instagram, @vibe.

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