Spotify Wrapped is a viral marketing campaign by Spotify. Released annually since 2016, every early December, the campaign allows Spotify users to view a compilation of data about their activity on the platform over the past year and invites them to share it on social media.

Spotify Wrapped
2020 Spotify Wrapped logo
2020 Spotify Wrapped logo
Date(s)Late November-Early December
Years active2016–present
TypeMarketing campaign

Spotify Wrapped typically includes the five musicians a user has listened to most often, the songs which they have listened to most, and their favourite music genres. Producers of content on the platform also have access to a version of Spotify Wrapped, which includes the number of times their content has been streamed that year. In addition to individualized data, Spotify Wrapped also includes information about activity on the Spotify platform as a whole. While Spotify Wrapped is commonly referred to as an annual collection of data, only activity from January 1st to an unknown date in the last 2 months is counted for any given year.

Spotify Wrapped is shared widely on social media each year and has led millions of people to promote Spotify on their social media accounts. Its release in early December each year or the ending of November, generally accompanied by billboards and television advertisements, has historically correlated with a boost to Spotify's app store ranking. The marketing campaign has been both praised and criticized for effectively providing Spotify with free advertising and has been discussed in connection with broader questions about data and Spotify's use of it. Commentators have also analyzed the effects of Spotify Wrapped on the music industry and contrasted it with offerings by other streaming services.

Purpose edit

Spotify Wrapped is a marketing campaign intended to promote Spotify. In addition to promoting the music streaming service by encouraging users to share about it on social media, the campaign has developed into a unique feature that is different from the offerings of rivals including Apple Music. In 2019, Spotify's head of marketing described this phenomenon as a "FOMO effect" which has encouraged people to use Spotify over other music apps.[1]

Structure edit

Spotify Wrapped allows both Spotify users and producers on the platform[2] to view a compilation of data about trends on the platform[3] as well as their activity on the platform over the past year,[a] then invites them to share it on social media[2] including Instagram.[4] Structurally, it consists of a series of sequential screens of information, with the last one containing the invitation to share the previous pages.[5] Users can view information about their most-listened-to songs and artists[6] as well as their favorite music genres;[1] producers are invited to share the number and location of streams of their content.[6] The data is organized in a visually appealing way, intended to boost engagement[7] and encourage viewers to share the campaign on social media, which benefits Spotify.[8]

While Spotify Wrapped is commonly referred to as an annual collection of data, Billboard and Newsweek have reported that only activity from between January 1 and October 31 of a given year is included.[3] In 2021, a Spotify official told Newsweek that the reasons for activity tracking ending in October as opposed to December are logistical because time is needed for quality assurance and other preparation.[9] However, in October 2023, Spotify stated on Twitter that "Wrapped is still counting past Oct. 31". There have been accounts of Spotify users who sign up for their account after October 31st still getting wrapped summaries based on what they've listened to so far.[10]

History edit

The campaign began in December 2016, and has been promoted by Spotify every December since that year.[2] It was preceded in 2015[11] by a similar but less developed campaign[1] called "Year in Music".[12] In 2017, it was expanded to include artists and advertisers on Spotify in addition to consumers; in 2019, it was built into the Spotify application.[13]

Released in the first week of December each year,[14] Spotify Wrapped has become popular, and is shared widely on social media each year,[5] as are related memes.[15] The viral marketing campaign has led millions of people to promote Spotify on their social media accounts without being paid by the company.[1] Traditional marketing efforts such as billboards[4] and television advertisements[1] have also been used alongside the digital campaign.[4]

Spotify Wrapped has historically included the five artists a user has listened to most often and the songs they have listened to most often. In 2018, Spotify included information about the astrological signs of the artists a user listened to most[5] and the oldest song a user listened to.[16] In 2019, Spotify Wrapped began using a new format modeled after social media stories.[17] In 2020, it included new metrics related to the podcasts a user had listened to, as well as quizzes and three personalized playlists;[18] Premium users could earn three different digital badges related to their listening over the previous year.[18] Also in 2020, Spotify created social media features to accompany the campaign including a hashtag challenge on TikTok and custom filters on Snapchat and Instagram, and recruited internet celebrities to promote the campaign.[4] In 2021, Spotify Wrapped included various internet slang phrases and referenced topics from popular culture including non-fungible tokens and skincare routines, spawning jokes and memes which made fun of the language used in the marketing campaign.[15]

Social media story format edit

At the end of the day, the problem here is not that Spotify stole my idea. It's that I gave it to them.

Jewel Ham, in Refinery29[17]

In 2019, Spotify began modeling Spotify Wrapped after social media stories, allowing the data to easily be shared on Instagram. In 2020, artist Jewel Ham claimed to have developed the story format for Spotify Wrapped during a three-month internship at Spotify, and stated that she had not received credit for the idea; a Spotify spokesperson denied the claim, telling Refinery29 that "while 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."[17]

Responses edit

The release of Spotify Wrapped in early December each year has historically correlated with a boost to Spotify's app store ranking.[19] Users' emotional responses to Spotify Wrapped vary. Some express excitement about the opportunity to share their own statistics, while others find the data embarrassing.[20]

On social media edit

In 2018, Spotify's customer support account on Twitter received a large number of messages from people complaining about their Spotify Wrapped results, believing them to be wrong or unfair.[5]

In December 2019, more than 1,200,000 posts on Twitter were about Spotify Wrapped after it came out near the beginning of the month.[1][4]

In media edit

In The Guardian, a 2019 article stated that the popularity of the Spotify Wrapped campaign "shows that some people not only accept their data being used and stored but embrace their intimate listening habits being put on public display."[21] Also in 2019, Dan Adler wrote an article in Vanity Fair in which he questioned the effects of Spotify's algorithms and Spotify Wrapped on the music industry, stating that Spotify's playlists are designed using the same data shared in Spotify Wrapped and referring to a 2017 article in The Baffler whose author argued that "Spotify’s obsession with mood and activity-based playlists has contributed to all music becoming more like Muzak." Referencing Spotify Wrapped's use of the slogan "no one listened quite like you" and of the vaguely defined genre pop rap, Adler concluded that "maybe it’s all pop rap in the end, and no listens quite like you until everyone does."[22]

In 2020, an opinion article by Meredith Clark in NBC Think described Wrapped as "a pretty box full of mined data that we willingly fed into an international corporation's computers in exchange for listening convenience" but stated that Wrapped was comforting because its information about people's listening habits proved "that none of us are really cool".[23] In 2021, Rachel Metz of CNN Business described Spotify Wrapped as an "impressively effective" marketing campaign, noting that it demonstrates "how a company can conduct in-depth surveillance of our personal behavior over a long period of time and package it as a fun feature that we want to share with others." Metz quoted Chris Gilliard of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, who said that Spotify makes Wrapped "viral and appealing" to "occlude the harms of the extractive practices" that enable its creation. She and Gilliard both noted that Spotify Wrapped data can reveal personal information, providing the example that the presence of lullabies or songs by The Wiggles might suggest that a user has a young child.[24]

Criticism edit

A 2018 article in The Atlantic described Spotify Wrapped as "a masterful coup of free advertising" and pointed out the volume of personal data that Spotify collects; Spotify declined to comment.[5] In 2020, an article in The Baffler similarly characterized the campaign, cautioning readers that "Wrapped is Spotify's way of obtaining free advertising from all sides of its business model" and arguing that Spotify users should be conscious of the fact that they are advertising "a company whose product is fully built on exploited labor".[25]

A 2021 opinion piece by Amil Niazi in The Globe and Mail framed Spotify Wrapped as "a reminder of Spotify's dominance in the music streaming space" and questioned whether the company's control is "ultimately good for how we consume music". Niazi said that the algorithms of Spotify shape the listening habits of users in a way that "favours big names and heavy streams."[26] Also in 2021, Elle Hunt wrote an opinion piece criticizing Spotify Wrapped in The Guardian, characterizing it as "an effective marketing scheme" but a "banal and depressing" experience. Hunt argued that Spotify users' listening habits are largely shaped by the platform itself, and described Wrapped as "flat, functional, siloed" in contrast to She concluded that Wrapped is "little more than free advertising for a company that even the UK government has condemned for not extending a fair share of its profits and power to artists", and stated that "Wrapped isn't even the most interesting data [Spotify] keeps on you."[27] A 2021 article in Vox by Kelly Pau linked Spotify Wrapped to broader issues such as algorithmic bias, surveillance capitalism, and personal branding, with Pau writing that the campaign allows users to "reveal a little about themselves with low stakes and minimal participation, thoughtlessly mimicking how influencers mine their likes and interests to become a brand."[11]

By other music streaming services edit

In response to the success of Spotify's Wrapped campaign, several competing music streaming services have introduced similar data compilation features. Apple Music released its "Replay" playlist feature in 2019, accessible throughout the year, then redesigned "Replay" in 2022 to incorporate more interactive elements akin to Wrapped.[28][29] Tidal launched its "My Rewind" feature in 2020, which is available on the 1st of December every year alongside a curated "Best of" series.[30] YouTube Music started rolling out the "Your Music Journey" email and playlist feature in 2020, before releasing the Recap feature in 2021; in 2022 a seasonal recap feature was introduced.[31] Deezer's "#MyDeezerYear" feature was introduced in 2021.[32]

By the marketing industry edit

In a 2021, Adweek article where marketers who had recently been featured in the trade publication were asked about a social media marketing post they considered "best-in-class", the social media directors of McDonald's and PepsiCo as well as a marketing executive at El Pollo Loco all cited the Spotify Wrapped campaign. The McDonald's director called the campaign "a masterclass on fan advocacy".[33]

Awards edit

In 2020, the Spotify Wrapped campaign won various Webby Awards including the People's Voice Awards for Music, Best Data Visualization, and Best User Experience as well as the awards for Entertainment, Viral Marketing, and Integrated Campaign.[34]

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ According to Spotify, the Spotify Wrapped for a given year includes data from between January 1 and October 31 of that year.[3]

References edit

Citations edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Swant 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Braun 2020, p. 40.
  3. ^ a b c Bowenbank 2021.
  4. ^ a b c d e Cinjakov 2021, p. 30.
  5. ^ a b c d e Weiss 2018.
  6. ^ a b Braun 2020, p. 41.
  7. ^ Barata & Coelho 2021, p. 13.
  8. ^ Barata & Coelho 2021, p. 14.
  9. ^ Abbott 2021.
  10. ^ @Spotify (October 26, 2023). "Hmm, that doesn't sound right to us. Don't worry, Wrapped is still counting past Oct. 31 👀" (Tweet). Retrieved October 29, 2023 – via Twitter.
  11. ^ a b Pau 2021.
  12. ^ Pirone 2020, p. 38.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Krol 2021.
  15. ^ a b Cherelus 2021.
  16. ^ Kemppi 2018.
  17. ^ a b c Kim 2020.
  18. ^ a b Perez 2020.
  19. ^ Lewis 2020.
  20. ^ Wedell 2022.
  21. ^ Izzard 2019.
  22. ^ Adler 2019.
  23. ^ Clark 2020.
  24. ^ Metz 2021.
  25. ^ Pelly 2020.
  26. ^ Niazi 2021.
  27. ^ Hunt 2021.
  28. ^ Grothaus 2019.
  29. ^ Sato, Mia (November 29, 2022). "Apple Music's year-end roundup is a little better this year". The Verge. Archived from the original on January 4, 2023. Retrieved November 30, 2022.
  30. ^ Rayome & Aguilar 2021.
  31. ^ Forristal 2022.
  32. ^ Hanson 2020.
  33. ^ Mannarino 2021.
  34. ^ Kastrenakes & Peters 2020.

Works cited edit

External links edit