WXTJ Writes! by Grace Guinan: “What’s the Big Deal with Spotify Wrapped?”

Every year Spotify comes out with Spotify Wrapped, your music year in review.  And everyone goes crazy for it.  We post it on Instagram, share it with our friends, and make it into memes.  We are obsessed, but why?

Music is a very personal topic.  That’s why many people say, “I listen to everything” when asked what music they listen to.  I do it too and it is totally a lie.  I do not listen to everything, that would be impossible.  Talking about music taste is being vulnerable in a way people are often not comfortable.  That’s why Spotify Wrapped is so powerful.  Every year, our taste is validated by the source that knows it best.  Statistics have never made us happier.  And, let’s be honest- we are self centered people.  Spotify Wrapped is all about the individual user.  The opening line this year was, “If 2021 was a movie, you were the main character.  And what’s a movie without a soundtrack?” 

I have always thought it was cool (and creepy) how much Spotify knows about its users.  Music taste says a lot about a person, and Spotify has data on the music tastes of its 172 million subscribers and 381 million active monthly users.  This large database is how Spotify is able to make personalized recommendations, playlists, and targeted ads.  Spotify’s advertising page explicitly says to brands and businesses, “You can learn a lot about someone by what they listen to. Go beyond demographics by reaching your target audiences through listening behaviors that offer a unique glimpse of what they’re into.” If you really think about this, it is a little weird that Spotify is selling our listening behavior.  How do they get away with this?  Data collection is justified for users because data is also used to provide features they love (like Spotify Wrapped, for example).  In this way, Spotify Wrapped is not just a fun yearly event, but a genius campaign to avoid the data mining legal issues surrounding other tech companies such as Facebook and Google. 

Ultimately, the reason we love Spotify Wrapped is the reason we love music.  Music is attached to our identities.  For a lot of us, music is our identity.  I can see who I was this year reflected in my top songs of 2021.  Looking at my top songs over the years, I can see how I changed and how I am still the same.  I still love Shawn Mendes! 

I hope everyone had a great year of music-listening and wish you a wonderful 2022!!  Be sure to listen to some really good stuff this year.  If you use Apple Music, disregard this whole article, thank you. 

By Grace Guinan, who is a cohost of Goodness Gracious, Fridays 8-10 pm. ” Check her out on Spotify! @gracesguinan

WXTJ Writes! is brought to you by a team of 25 wonderful writers for the fall of 2021 and beyond. Our mission is to make our website come alive by diving even deeper into some of our favorite music — so get ready to talk music, media, entertainment, the arts, and read special stories told by radio-loving students every week here on wxtj.fm/articles.

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