Today is the Last Day for Spotify Wrapped 2022, Giving You One Final Chance to Preserve Your Reputation.
When Spotify Wrapped, its yearly, individualised round-up of each user’s listening habits, came last December, my results were mixed.
It was unsurprising that my most played artist was Lana Del Rey (I’m in my late 20s with a bookshelf full of novels I haven’t read), but it was a dark night of the soul to discover that one of my most played albums was a compilation of piano versions of Wii Sports selection menu songs, representing the truly dark headspace I was in during the early lockdown of 2021.
By December, I’d forgotten my pattern of listening to these songs at work since I couldn’t listen to anything else in January. It was funny and scary to remember how distracted I’d been.
It’s nice to relive your year in listening, but there’s nowhere to hide from yourself, as reflected by your music. If you “accidentally” listened to “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” more than any other song, you must confront facts, even if you project a “aloof and trendy” picture of yourself.
If being shamed by the shareable Spotify Wrapped statistics is too mortifying, today is the last day you can fiddle the numbers by playing something “cooler” on repeat all day (though it depends on how many hours of showtunes you’ve listened to – there’s only so much damage that can be undone in 24 hours).
At midnight, Spotify’s data harvesting will be done for the year (since if they waited any longer, it would be “All I Want for Christmas” season and Mariah would be everyone’s favourite artist) and your fate will be, literally, Wrapped.
Using Spotify Wrapped is a cop-out. The music we listen to is extremely personal, so it’s enjoyable to look back on the year’s habits – especially when they’re cringeworthy. Wrapped is hilarious when it considers what we listen to behind closed doors.
Like Spotify, Spotify Wrapped has issues. The platform’s liberal use of our data, to which it has access, raises concerns. In the past, it has used listener information on tongue-in-cheek billboards (one campaign from 2019 used “Total Eclipse of the Heart” listens during that year’s solar eclipse), which at first seemed harmless but on closer inspection can seem intrusive and as if the brand is using its unbridled access to our habits as a selling point, which feels dystopian.
This is without mentioning the dregs that Spotify pays artists ($0.003 to $0.005 per stream), which many performers, especially smaller bands and musicians, emphasise around Wrapped season by calling out the platform and sharing screenshots of their analytics. Many would rather you buy their music on iTunes or Bandcamp or see them live and buy a record or T-shirt. As fans who care about the artists we admire, especially the smaller ones who earn very little from streams, it’s crucial to remember this and support them in more efficient ways.
We know Spotify is a flawed platform, but many of us appreciate the mini-narratives it feeds us every year. (The only comparable Year In Review I can think of is the one internet bank Monzo produces annually, and since it once told me my “favourite restaurant” is Veggie Pret, I have little interest in that). We prefer Spotify because it’s personalised and unique to us, whether those narratives mirror our deepest, darkest selves or not.
If you don’t want Taylor Swift or the Glee season four soundtrack on top, you’ll need to act quickly.