This social networking app uses music to spark conversations and create connections

by Michael Hines
April 11, 2018
Nick Caputo Strum86 Founder
STRUM86 FOUNDER NICK CAPUTO

If you’ve ever been karaoking or to a show or at a bar where the speakers have the volume turned up to 11, you’ve probably seen strangers become fast friends over a shared love of music. That’s the basic idea behind Strum86, a new social networking app designed to bring people together over shared tastes in music.

“Music is a great way to get past the walls people put up,” said founder Nick Caputo. “What you listen to is a really good window into who you are as a person. You don’t have to ask too much to get really personal insights.”

Caputo hit upon the idea for Strum86 while attending Augustana College, a liberal arts school in western Illinois with a student population just over 2,500. As Caputo tells it, if you weren’t part of a clique or on a team, then your chances of meeting new people were slim to nil.

“Strum86 came out of a need to break the ice,” Caputo said.

Work on the platform began in the summer of 2016 while Caputo was still a student studying computer science. The app debuted on Android in June  2017 and launched on iOS earlier this year.

It’s like goggles you put on in a room that say, ‘You need to talk to these people.’”

When creating a profile, users first rank their interest in various genres of music. The results are used to provide a “trait similarity score,” which indicates how well your musical tastes align with other users. One of Strum86’s most unique features is the ability to pin a song to your profile, a feature that should stir up feelings of nostalgia in those who grew up with Myspace.

Strum86 is location-based, with users shown a maximum of six profiles at once. This pool of potential friends refreshes every 60 seconds or whenever you change locations. In addition to sending messages, users can also send songs. There’s also a built-in events function that lets users search for nearby shows. “Saving” an event allows users to filter their search results so that they only see people who are interested in the same shows.

The app is currently available in Los Angeles, Chicago and one other “secret city,” and early growth has been driven primarily by word of mouth. Caputo said Strum86 has been especially popular at concerts and networking events.

“The app is especially useful at networking events because you’re already looking to talk to people but may want to find common ground first,” said Caputo. “It’s like goggles you put on in a room that say, ‘You need to talk to these people.’”

Strum86 has a headcount of 10 distributed around the country. The team is heads-down developing new features for the app, but Caputo said he is hoping to bring on marketing and engineering talent sometime in the future.

“I’d like to see Strum86 become the de facto way to talk to somebody you don’t know,” said Caputo.

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