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What Is Spotify Wrapped? The Music Streaming Service Cultural Phenomenon, Explained

What's wrong babe? You hardly listened to your emo-folk ...

Example of 2021's Spotify Wrapped, as provided by TechCrunch.

Well, it’s that time again. The time when we all huddle around a dimly lit table in a boba shop and compare our Spotify Wrappeds. Because … everyone does that, right?

If you’re just wondering what the hell this thing is, and why all the alt girls who won’t talk to you are so into it, then I’ve got you covered. Spotify Wrapped is Spotify’s “gift” to all its users at the end of the year. What it does is this: Spotify compiles your most listened-to artists, songs, and genres (provided they’re all still on the app—you’re blessed, Joni), and then it places them in a funky slideshow that showcases your stats. You’re able to screenshot and/or download this info and share it with your friends.

Might sound silly or self-indulgent, but—well, yeah it is, and I like to think it’s harmless. It’s fun to see what your friends were up to, and it’s a nice reminder that, while time goes by fast, a lot can happen in a year. Is it a little, eh, concerning that people are so determined to use other metrics to define themselves, instead of metrics they develop internally? Absolutely, it freaks me out. And is Spotify a shitty, shitty company? Oh yeah, baby. But if you do still have it, then hey, you may as well enjoy your Wrapped results on your own terms.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty though, I think we ought to acknowledge that Spotify Wrapped was basically an intern’s idea, which was subsequently stolen from her:

Sure, it’s hearsay, but knowing about Spotify’s (reported) internal workings, I’m gonna take her word for it. I still think it’s okay to enjoy her brilliant idea, but remember: we can love the product AND always— always—badmouth the company.

When is Spotify Wrapped released?

Originally we thought this year’s Wrapped would release by the end of the week, but the baby wanted to come out quicker! You can access your Spotify Wrapped 2022 now, starting this morning on November 30th.

All you need is an up-to-date installation of Spotify, and whammo, you got your stats. Mine are looking pretty good. Although apparently, I’ve had somewhat of a downer of a year, judging from the music they’re showcasing…I swear I’m not a sadboy, I party, I have fun!!!

How is Spotify Wrapped calculated?

Essentially, the app calculates your listening data from January to October (rarely does it go further than that, at least in any great capacity) and goes through the easy process of determining who and what you listened to the most. It then ranks these metrics and presents the top results.

… often with “inspired” graphic design choices:

Sometimes, the app will get a little creative with it, too. Last year, they tried something new with your “audio aura,” which combined the general “moods” of your top songs and artists and created a vibe with them. It was … kind of dumb, honestly. But in any case, this was mine:

Example of Spotify Wrapped 2021's "Audio Aura"
(Madeline Carpou)

I couldn’t tell you what the hell this means, but I can tell you it probably came about because I listened to a lot of intense rock and hip-hop last year. “Bold,” “energy.” A bad relationship will do that to ya.

How to see your Spotify Wrapped

Thankfully, the app makes it pretty easy to see your Wrapped. If you open your app on a handheld device, a pop-up will ask if you’d like to be taken straight there. It’ll otherwise be available for viewing anytime on your For You page, along with a playlist containing your most-played songs of the year.

If you’re on desktop though, you can simply go to spotify.com/us/wrapped and log in to your account.

Don’t forget to save your results!!!

Alternatively … Instafest!

I highly recommend trying a new Spotify collab with Instagram called Instafest. Yes, to all ye who find festival-goers annoying, this might seem incredibly dumb, but for the rest of us, it’s a blast.

You can access Instafest if you have both an Instagram and a Spotify account. If you don’t have an Insta but want to see your festival poster anyways, you could just make one for this purpose then delete it afterwards.

Access your fest at instafest.app. This lil number is mine:

Example of Instafest, a collaboration between Instagram and Spotify.

You can change the background decor, as well as whether your results tally your listening record from the last four weeks, the last six months, or all-time. I did all-time to get the most accurate results, although I’m a little skeptical of this data. My most-listened-to artist, according to Spotify in 2020, was Current Joys, but he seems to have been usurped by some other white boys. I’m guessing they don’t rank it quite as precisely? Especially weird considering I’ve definitely listened to some of these artists more than others …?

Eh. At least it looks pretty.

(featured image: TechCrunch / Spotify)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer and dog mom. She aims to use her writing to positively represent mixed-race people like herself, and is currently working on a novel. However, when she isn't writing, she's either battling insomnia or taking too many naps. You can read her stuff at https://madelinecwrites.com/