Spotify Wrapped Returns

George Merkt, Contributor

Snow is falling, your face is frozen, and before you know it, its that time of year again. No, I’m not talking about the holidays (although some may consider it one). I’m talking about Spotify Wrapped. This date returns once a year typically in early December after its inaugural campaign in 2016. Since its launch Spotify wrapped has become one of the trendiest topics on the internet with either staunch defenders or haters (who probably use apple music anyways, gross). It typically culminates in a massive wave of posts to social media platforms promoting interaction or disdain. 

Spotify wrapped really took off to astronomical popularity following the updating of its format by social media intern and artist Jewel Ham. In an interview with media conglomerate Refinery29 Ham shared that “at the end of the day, the problem here is not that Spotify stole my idea. It’s that I gave it to them.” This idea by Jewel Ham shifted the focus of Spotify wrapped from an internally facing one to one that promoted a sharable breakdown of the data that Spotify provided its listeners. Spotify refuted this claim by Jewel Ham stating that “ideas generated during Spotify’s internship program have on occasion informed campaigns and products, based on our internal review, that is not the case here with Spotify Wrapped.” However, considering Jewel’s tweets, as seen below, it is clear that Spotify borrowed, or at the very least, was inspired by her ideas.

This transition to a shareable social media phenomenon has skyrocketed popularity and interaction with Spotify. Delivered as a story into users’ apps Spotify wrapped breaks down listening habits by genre, artist, song, and even minutes listened. Historically, it contains a final slide that is easily sharable to different social media mediums that include the five artist a user has listened to the most often, and additionally the five songs that they have listened to on repeat throughout the year. In addition, Spotify has spiced things up for users by adding additional details such as the horoscope of artists, creative new genre bending categorization, and personalized playlists containing top artists, top songs, and new discoveries they believe you would enjoy. A fun fact that not many people know or consider about Spotify wrapped is that while it is referred to as an annual collection of data, only users’ data is collected between January 1st and October 31st. This means that while Spotify is no doubt collecting users’ listening habits the music one listens to from October 31st to January 1st of the next year is not impacting ones Spotify wrapped. This is wonderful news for Christmas music listeners who would undoubtably skew their data with Michael Buble’s Christmas album on repeat. 

As Spotify Wrapped has exploded in popularity so has comparing your results with your friends. A fellow University of Minnesota student commented to me saying:

I look forward to getting my spotify wrapped each year and comparing it to all of my friends! I always post it too so that my followers can see mine

— Felicia

Medaski This prompts the question of data collection and mining. Cleverly Spotify has monetized the collection of user data by using it as free promotion. This shows that some people not only accept their data being used and stored but embrace their intimate listening habits being put on public display.