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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

‘Tis the Season of Spotify Wrapped

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Graphic: Riley Farbstein

It is officially the most wonderful time of the year. Spotify Wrapped has finally dropped and it is hands down the greatest gift of the season. For all of the loyal Apple Music listeners out there or for those who’ve been hiding under a lump of coal, I’ll give a little bit of background on Spotify’s iconic annual marketing campaign. Towards the end of each year, the digital music streaming service compiles massive amounts of user data to create an individualized, interactive and shareable experience. Originally titled “Year in Review,” Wrapped was given its new and improved name in 2016. Since then, it has grown into a highly anticipated global phenomenon — a fan favorite, one might say. In 2022 alone, over 156 million users engaged with Wrapped. If you do the math, that’s approximately one Wrapped user for every 50 people in the entire world.

Clearly, Wrapped is a chart-topping experience. But the question that still remains is why. What is it about a bunch of data thrown together in an eye-catching montage that has millions of people clicking on an inconspicuous green icon?

Before diving into this question, let’s recap this year’s Wrapped experience. On Nov. 29, 2023, millions of listeners around the world opened up the Spotify app and were ushered into a virtual experience like no other. Nostalgic, colorful and undeniably edgy, the slides or “data stories” from this year’s Wrapped were peppered with various statistics that summed up users’ listening habits in 2023. Basic stats — rankings of users’ top artists, their most listened-to genres and even their favorite podcasts — were accompanied by a unique soundtrack inspired by users’ musical tastes. Swiping through each data story is akin to unwrapping the best kind of present: one that you didn’t know you needed until you had it in your hands. 

According to Louisa Ferguson, Spotify’s head of Global Marketing Experience, the aim of this year’s campaign was to create the “realest Wrapped ever” because the data doesn’t lie. To keep things as real as possible, Spotify added some never-before-seen features to the latest edition of Wrapped. New data stories with catchy names like “Sound Town,” a feature that assigns users a city whose population had similar listening habits, made innovative use of Spotify’s massive data collection. Other new additions, including a genre “sandwich” and the peak listening months for users’ top five artists, pulled even more data from the archives. Each user was also granted access to a video message from one of over 40,000 participating artists. Like the greatest mix-master of all time, Spotify combined the new with the old in this year’s Wrapped, generating the most unique and memorable experience to date.

Needless to say, Spotify Wrapped is a stroke of marketing genius. But I believe that there is more to this music-fueled frenzy than just a flashy PR scheme. The over 100 million shares of individualized Wrapped stories and graphics on social media in 2022 seem to be pointing at something deeper. Writer Tessa Ogle over at Harper’s Bazaar has an interesting hypothesis. She believes that sharing your Wrapped is a “means of creating the online identity [you] want to project.” Every time someone posts their Wrapped on Instagram or tweets about it on X, formerly Twitter, they are actively curating digital versions of themselves and giving their followers a glimpse into their authentic personalities. 

But that can’t be right. There’s simply no way that our musical preferences as per Wrapped are true reflections of us — as people without the headphones. But as it turns out, your taste in music really does have the power to influence your personality. You know the old saying “you are what you eat”? Since eating and listening to music are both forms of consumption, it only makes sense that you are what you listen to as well. That means every minute spent scream-singing to Olivia Rodrigo or mellowing out to Noah Kahan has played a role in shaping your identity. If Spotify’s data doesn’t lie, then Wrapped is a direct reflection of that identity.

Just like the music you choose to consume, Wrapped is another representation of your true self. It is the aggregate of all the moments. Happy? Maybe, you listened to Harry Styles. Sad? Then, you turned to Lana Del Rey. Somewhere in between? You could have played something from Drake. The long-awaited Wrapped is unique in that it gives users the chance to be vulnerable by enabling and empowering them to share their one-of-a-kind music tastes with others. You are your Wrapped. And, in my humble opinion, that’s something of which you should be proud. Whether your favorite genre is rap, or you listen to Taylor Swift with rapt attention, don’t be afraid to go forth: be fearless, and share your Wrapped with the world.

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About the Contributor
Abby Harn, Assistant Special Projects Manager
Abby Harn is a sophomore from San Antonio, TX concentrating in international relations and economics. She has previously served as a staff writer for the Commentary section. 

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