I’m thinking about Letterboxd. I joined this trendy film lover’s platform a few weeks ago, and — hey whaddaya know — I’m enjoying it. Here’s my profile. I’m logging the movies I watch and the ones I want to watch, which is my main reason for using Letterboxd. (I’ve gone through my journal and back-tracked some movies I watched in the past year before I joined.) Now I’m starting to enjoy the platform’s social aspects and how it’s a powerful place for film discussion and discovery.
Film critic Scott Tobias wrote an informative article on Letterboxd and its culture for The Ringer. Here’s a paragraph from that:
“Diary” was one of the words Matthew Buchanan focused on when he and his cofounder, Karl von Randow, were conceiving Letterboxd in the years before it launched in 2011. The other word was “Lists.” Those were the building blocks of the service, and they’re almost embarrassingly true to how the cinephile mind works to compartmentalize the films that pass through it. The common denominator among Letterboxd users tends to be a compulsion to log and order the things they’ve seen, which many of them were already doing using spreadsheets or pen and paper. Letterboxd is a social media site that opens up those habits to public scrutiny, but the trade-off is that it also functions as a vast warehouse of opinion and hard data, an opportunity both to survey reactions to popular films and head down various rabbit holes. “Social film discovery” is how the homepage labels it—a phrase that’s in keeping with the no-frills, unassuming nature of the site.
Die-hard movie fans and fanatical music heads are similar. That paragraph could easily be talking about album collectors. The article also contains this quote about film buffs: “There’s still the delusion that you can see everything, that you can really have an encyclopedic knowledge of the entire expanse and breadth of the medium, which is not really on the table when it comes to literature or art.” Literature or art but not music. Because music collectors have the same mentality.
Where’s the Letterboxd of music? That’s an excellent idea. Replace ‘movies’ with ‘music’ and imagine a musical Letterboxd to keep track of and discuss the albums we listen to. We’ll make themed or best-of lists and professional music critics will rub shoulders with amateur and aspiring critics with their opinions. And, like on Letterboxd, the pros can be looser (and funnier) in their comments and reviews than on their employers’ sites, which makes things fun.
As mentioned in The Ringer article, another feature is no film (or album) is too old for discussion. “Release dates don’t matter at Letterboxd, and conversations can happen about any film at any time, which gives it an advantage over formal publications, which peg their coverage around embargo dates …” It’s like hanging out at the indie record/video store. The new releases might be the first thing we talk about, but our discussion eventually turns to rating the classics and obscure favorites.
For music, this kinda sounds like the lovechild of Last.FM and Discogs. But, while those sites have their particular focuses (‘scrobbling‘ and marketplace) this musical Letterboxd is solely about music nerds and fans congregating and talking about music. Am I missing something? Is there something out there like this? Let’s make it happen.
I think you’re looking for this – https://musicboard.app/
M Donaldson says
Perhaps! — thanks, I’ll check it out. But an advantage of Letterboxd is that it’s not primarily app-based, so its content is accessible outside of membership (and can be linked to in things like my blog posts). I feel that’s an important aspect to the growth of the Letterboxd platform.
This isn’t bad. Seems like it hasn’t gotten the love it needs to grow. These things live or die by a critical using it and making it a vibrant community.
I agree with the author of this article, a true Letterboxd equivalent for music is my dream app.
I have been using Listnd which is similar but very rough around the edges. Would be better if more people were on the app.
Rateyourmusic.com is what you’re looking for, I think. It’s easily the most active online community for music I’ve seen, with the most popular records having between 20,000 and 60,000 ratings. It’s incredible for finding new music of all sorts of genres as well, whether they be immensely obscure or massive hits.
It might not be the most stylish looking, nor does it have an app, but it’s honestly the best place for music fans – I love it.
Corey Corvo says
The Rate for Music library of reviews plus rating + the social media aspects of Letterboxd would be the ultimate for me.
The best app that is Letterboxd for music is Krate. You connect your Spotify and rate what you are listening to. Its a social media app like Letterboxd so you have friends and see what music they’re posting. Doesn’t show everything you listen to, just what you decide to post. There’s also a ‘my krate’ feature where you save what you want to listen to later, like a watchlist. It’s in the App Stores under krate: rate music and the website is krateapp.net
M Donaldson says
Thanks for letting us know about the app. It’s interesting, but a totally different animal than a ‘Letterboxd for music,’ I’d say. For one thing, Letterboxd is platform agnostic — for example, I don’t use Spotify at all so I’m not allowed in the Krate community. And this is app-only whereas Letterboxd’s main appeal (to me) is the online discussions and filmographies that are available to all via browser (in addition to their apps). Still looking — but thanks again for the tip!