How true is Spotify Wrapped?

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The world’s leading music streaming service, Spotify, has finally released its annual report highlighting the streaming activity of its users.  

Appropriately named “Spotify Wrapped,” the campaign presents users’ trends through  contemporary graphics and trendy lingo used throughout the year. Spotify “wraps up” each user’s year on the app, allowing listeners to view their listening trends from the previous months with categories like Most Played Song, Top 5 Artists, and Top Podcast. 

This year, users can click through a slideshow, similar to an Instagram story, to view visuals within the Spotify app. Initially, the streaming service started the promotion in 2015 as “Year In Music,” but was changed to “Spotify Wrapped” in 2016.  

It was expanded in 2017 to include artists and advertisers so they could also view data on streamers who engage in their content. And, in 2018, it was made available on the mobile app, whereas in years prior, users could view their results on a dedicated website.  

This is the company’s sixth year running the marketing campaign, and it has become a ritual among Spotify users to share their “Wrapped” on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram. While some may be alarmed about certain elements, such as the number of minutes spent listening to music, others are unfazed by how often they play their favorite artists. 

Although this feature gives consumers the ability to share their music tastes and explore new genres as well as other media, at some point, one must wonder: Just how precise is Spotify Wrapped?  

There have been discussions regarding the accuracy of the company’s data collection on social media with one user, @isawstars_ on Twitter, stating that “it feels like it’s only like the first four months of the year.”  

Others are confused by the use of obscure genre names like “Weirdcore” or “Meme Rap.”  

According to an article on Newsweek, Spotify begins to track trends Jan. 1 through Oct. 31, ten months out of the year. Brendan Codey, associate director for Spotify’s Creator Growth and Program stated the reason for this is solely time constraints and logistics.  

“We need to QA [quality assurance] the site and we need to finalize assets for Wrapped, all of which takes a while. You throw Thanksgiving into the mix as well and we have even less time,” said Codey in an exclusive interview with Newsweek.  

Listeners might feel conflicted by this, as a new album from their favorite artist released in November or December won’t be included at all in this year or next year’s Wrapped. In the same context, this data gap can also pose a problem to Spotify’s artists and content creators as well.  

“After all, if they release a hit album in November (like Taylor Swift‘s Red (Taylor’s Version), which actually resulted in Spotify crashing earlier this month), then all the data associated with this is missing from their annual Wrapped roundup,” wrote Newsweek.  

Currently, it’s not completely clear how Spotify tracks streaming habits but it is known that any track played for 30 seconds is taken into account, including offline streams

The Daily Campus asked the Reddit community of the University of Connecticut what they thought about their Spotify Wrapped results. 

Recorded on Dec. 5 at 12:13 p.m., out of 219 votes:  

There were 126 subreddit users who believe Spotify accurately reflects their listening history, 46 disagreed and the rest do not use Spotify.  (It should be noted that this subreddit is not only made up of current students of UConn, but also alumni and other users of Reddit.) 

@Westporter, a current student in the subreddit, said they use a different application to track their data and that it is pretty similar to what was reported by the popular streaming service.   

“I have an app called Spotistats that aggregates the raw data from Spotify, it was pretty close to what the wrapped had me listening to,” said @Westporter.  

Other online trackers are also popular with Spotify listeners.  

One Twitter user, @thecaitlinmarie tweeted, “…also, I use last.fm since it’s more accurate and you can actually include the music listened to after October.” 

In both Spotistats and Last.fm, users can see their most recent listening patterns from the past year based on Spotify data. Other websites that show your most streamed music include Receiptify, which displays your most played songs from the last month, six months or all time. Obscurify analyzes your data to assess your level of obscureness compared to others in your area. It also recommends music based on your current listening history.  

Overall, Spotify Wrapped encourages us to keep a record of our lives and to share them with others.    

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