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Spotify Wrapped: just a summary of our musical listening habits – or something more? 

Our annual listening habits have become an extreme phenomenon since Spotify gained popularity. Influenced by genre diversity, sharing of musical taste, and personalised playlists, Spotify makes it easier and widely accessible for listeners to enjoy their style of music, making it cross-cultural and shareable with others. Spotify is one of the first platforms to make music so easily accessible to the masses and allows them to listen to their favourite artists from across the globe for a reasonable price online, making it one of the most popular streaming apps in the world. Along with being able to listen to your favourite artists, Spotify has always considered the genres and artists the listener is biased towards and gives them suggestions and further makes personalised playlists for them based on what they listen to. Spotify tracks and keeps account of every single minute spent on the app, as well as the number of times a listener has spent on a certain song, artist, or genre. This has been a part of the Spotify system since it came out in 2006, although became publicized and accessible to listeners in 2015 when Spotify Wrapped was the new globally popular concept. This caused every single person to obsessively post their taste in music on social media platforms and compare it with others, depicting the “differences” in their music taste and time spent listening to music. 

Every year, listeners look forward to their most listened-to songs, artists, albums, podcasts etc. Spotify wrapped is used to analyse, summarise and record the listening history of a certain person throughout the year.  However, is it always accurate or necessary? Spotify categorizes every artist in its personalised playlists as the top “favourites” most of which are inaccurate. “Pop music is the most listened to genre in 2023”, same as every year and is extremely predictable and no surprise! Streaming one popular song by more than half of the population will globally put the artist in the top ten with no proof of any other song gaining even an ounce of popularity. Spotify wrapped remains a great platform for individuals to have a view on their favourite artists, although wouldn’t they be aware of this given the amount of time, they have spent listening to the music that is just put out in front of them every single year? Is it necessary for the number 1 artist to be Taylor Swift every year because she releases her oldest albums once again with a newer yet similar version? Is it necessary to categorise people as music fans based on the amount of time they have spent listening to Spotify in the past year when other platforms for music don’t infringe upon the privacy of others’ listening history to have their app on everyone’s social media annually? For many, music can be personal, and they may not want a wrapped history of the same every year. People’s music history may depend on their moods on a certain day and shouldn’t be recorded by the number of times they have heard a given song, the amount of time they have spent on the artist or further their inclusion for the percentage of listeners of a particular artist at a given point of time. Spotify annually categorises listeners as “soft music listeners” or “heavy music listeners”, etc given they have one artist from said genres in their top 5. Music is broad and therefore individuals should not be categorized as a certain music listener when they are aware of the genre, they listen to given music is made to be enjoyed and not categorized. 

Pop music wins the number one spot in genres every single year as since 2015 there have been minimal individuals listening to anything other than “catchy” pop music. This is the kind of music played at cafes, clubs, etc as it caters to most of the masses hence leading it to gain the highest level of popularity. Is Spotify wrapped overall helpful in exploring new forms of music or is it just intrusive?  I don’t particularly appreciate when I have the band Foo Fighters (Which I aggressively dislike) added to every one of my personalised grunge playlists due to my extreme interest in said genre specifically disregarding this particular band and it further showing up on my favourite artists which is aggressively inaccurate. It is without a doubt that Spotify can help many explore different kinds of artists based on music history, although it is not always accurate and comes in our top 10 anyway. 

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