This week, Spotify rolled out their annual Wrapped series, their marketing peak of the year.
For those who aren't one of the streaming giant's 113 million premium subscribers, Spotify Wrapped is when an inconceivably large amount of data is collected and then presented in the form of aesthetically pleasing, neatly organized, and Instagram-ready visual roundups of your listening habits over the past 12 months. It covers the basics, like your five most-frequented songs and artists of the year, as well as more niche topics, like what you gravitated to each season and how many countries your music came from. Spotify even took it a step further this year to commemorate the end of the decade, revealing the personal top song and artist for each year the user has been subscribed. A 2016 study found that the average listener spends 2.5 hours on the app a day; that's over a trillion total hours a year that Spotify keeps a very close eye on.
For music junkies, scrolling through their yearly Spotify Wrapped is as exciting as receiving a small gift. With something so personal and integrated in our lives as music—though we rarely look at it in such a broad scale—the expansive synopsis of how we choose to spend our listening time over the year feels like a deeply telling look at ourselves. We strive for a Top 5 that summarize us well, although the inevitable guilty pleasure song or white noise track might slip into the mix. Each result is catered uniquely to each of us, ensuring us all that nobody listened quite like we did. Spotify tries really, really hard to make us and our results feel special, calling us "World Citizens" and "genre-fluid."
There's also the fact that we love divulging our music tastes to our followers. Since Spotify first introduced their share-to-Instagram story feature last year, posting our current favorite songs has become a somewhat-begrudged habit—so much so that tweets often float around teasing the boastful music junkies who partake. Part of us knows that nobody actually cares what we listen to, but our curated music taste is a handy way to express ourselves—or a persona emblematic of who we want to be—to others. Sharing our top artists and songs of the year takes it a step further: We actually do listen to that very cool music year-round.
So, when you look at it from afar, Spotify Wrapped isn't much more than a creep-level analyzation of one of our daily habits, perfectly optimized and positioned in such a way that encourages us to share the results and encourage all of our followers to do the same thing. It's marketing to a T, but however ridiculous it sounds, I'll still be looking forward to it every year.