I love my Spotify Wrapped, but there's more to me than a list

I love my Spotify Wrapped, but there’s more to me than a list

phones displaying different brands year in review

Sabrina Ortiz/ZDNET

As you were scrolling through your Instagram stories last week, you were probably bombarded with screenshots of other people’s Spotify Wrapped or Apple Music Replay stats, maybe even my own – because I’m (shamelessly) one of the problem.

Sharing our musical interests with others is nothing new. People have always shared their musical tastes, whether it’s lending vinyl records, burning mixtapes or creating playlists. The music we listen to is an expression of who we are. By sharing these interests with others, you are sharing an integral part of your identity.

But describing our musical tastes to others can be difficult because the details are as complex as we are. Most of the time, one genre, artist or album alone won’t accurately represent our full listening experience to others – and that’s why year-end reports play such a vital role.

Year-end music streaming summaries – such as Spotify Wrapped, Apple Music Replay and their less popular cousin, YouTube Music Recap – can use data from the whole year to produce a report of the exact music you really have. listened to.

SEE: Spotify and Apple Music have prepared your 2022 listening stats. Here’s how to get yours

Most importantly, these summaries present data in a way that’s aesthetically pleasing and easy to share with others. With a screenshot of your top five artists or songs, you can show everyone exactly what makes up your music listening cycle in a way you couldn’t with words.

At the heart of our desire to share our musical tastes with others is also the desire to fit in and find community. When I started college, someone told me to wear band t-shirts because it was an easy way to find people who shared a common interest.

The same concept applies to sharing your online music preferences with others. People who have similar musical interests to you can scan your story and have a quick conversation that could be the start of a new friendship, or at least a pleasant conversation.

In addition to learning more about others, you can also learn more about yourself. Every song ever created expresses a specific emotion that an artist is trying to convey, including grief, love, anxiety, loss, happiness, etc.

“From the eerily specific to the unapologetically predictable, Wrapped encourages listeners to peer into the vibrant kaleidoscope of their listening and show it to the world,” Spotify told me.

The best songs you listen to represent the events you are going through and seeing this information at the end of the year can be very informative. For example, when I was going through a bad breakup, one of my most played songs that year was my heartbreaking anthem. It was really interesting to see this result at the end of the year because at that time I was cured. Your report is an opportunity for personal reflection.

The ability to learn more about yourself by quantifying yourself and your habits into tangible numbers is fascinating – and it gets people hooked. It’s for this reason that year-end recaps have extended far beyond the music industry.

Last year, Hulu rolled out a Year-End Video Streaming Recap, which shared your viewing trends while using the service.

Duolingo, the language-learning app, and Strava, the exercise tracker, also released statistics for the year to users. For both of these apps, statistics can help users understand how hard they’ve worked toward their personal growth goals over the past year. They can also help them understand what they need to do in the next year to get a little closer to achieving their goals.

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And there’s more: Snapchat is releasing a specially wrapped “End of Year Story,” which shows a summary of your Snapchat memories for the entire year. Instagram followed Snapchat’s steps and released an Instagram Reading feature last year, which also aggregates user stories into one big year-end recap.

It’s both nostalgic and insightful to see the activity of the past year through these recap services.

But for reports to accurately reflect your life over the past year, the app should document every instance of your activity. So what about your life beyond apps?

If you did a killer run that made you feel good but forgot to log it into Strava, does that mean the workout just didn’t happen? What about the times you heard a new song drifting on the breeze of a summer afternoon – didn’t that mean anything? What about that amazing coffee date you went to, where you didn’t take a picture because you were having too much fun and now that moment will never bring out your highlight?

While summary services can provide insight into our statistics for specific activities, the numbers are ultimately limited to what the app is able to track, which is not all aspects of your daily life.

One solution is to document your daily life more, so that the results are actually more considered. However, this level of detail creates a dependency on documenting your life on some sort of media, which takes away the joys of the moment.

Another, more practical solution is to take the results with tweezers. That’s not to say the reports don’t make sense. Reports are valuable, a fun way to share passions with friends, and can provide personal insight – remember they will never show 100% of the picture.


ZDNET’s Monday Opening is our first tech release of the week, written by members of our editorial team.


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