Whoever invented Spotify Wrapped deserves a raise. The day that the music-streaming site releases its annual Spotify Wrapped lists is practically a musical holiday, setting off sharing and discussion among users, and certainly creating the desired buzz the company wants. This year, Spotify added a new feature and tweaked another -- but not all users were given those new features.
Here's a look at what's offered, how to watch and rewatch, what's new this year and why the new features might not have showed up in your personal Spotify Wrapped.
You probably already have a sneaking suspicion, or super-strong feeling, about which artist or bands you listened to the most this year. But the fun of Spotify Wrapped is getting to confirm that, and maybe cringe if an uncool artist wrangled their way into your top five -- or feel superior if your artists are all eclectic indie stars about to break out big. Hey, you knew them first.
Spotify Wrapped tells you how many songs you listened to in 2023, and goes into detail about the one you listened to most, including number of times you played that song and even the date you first listened to it. It also assembles a playlist of your top songs.
You can see how many minutes you listened to music and podcasts on Spotify this year and which day you tuned in for the longest amount of time. What exactly was I doing on May 8, anyway, that I had so much time to rock out?
The roundup lists how many different artists you listened to this year, and of course, highlights the musician who came out on top. Some artists, including Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay, have also recorded short thank-you videos that pop up in your Wrapped roundup. You're shown a list of your five top artists, plus, for some reason, the month that you listened to them the most. And for your top artist, it ranks you in their fandom, telling you if you're in the top 20% of Taylor Swift listeners, for example.
Spotify also makes a list of your top five songs and tells you your preferred genre. Mine was simply "pop," because I'm a Gen X mom. My Gen Z daughter's was something called "pov: indie," because she's way hipper than I am.
Spotify Wrapped sums up the music its listeners have been enjoying in 2023.
Where do you live? No, not your address but musically. This year, Spotify Wrapped is assigning some listeners a Sound Town, which is a city somewhere in the world that supposedly matches your listening style. Sound Town should appear as the third entry for eligible users in their personalized Wrapped experience, beginning with "This year, your listening took you places..."
College towns, such as Eugene, Oregon, and Burlington, Vermont, were popular, but the US was far from the only country represented. Sound Towns were globally chosen, apparently, coming from Canada, India and Colombia, among other places.
Many listeners will be assigned a Sound Town, a city that supposedly reflects their listening tastes. But depending on your favorite artists, you might not get one.
Screenshot by Peter Butler/CNET
I wasn't assigned a Sound Town, and that's because that not everyone's listening habits make it easy to assign them a place.
To be eligible for a Sound Town, you have to have at least three top artists who "over-index" in a particular city, meaning that they have a larger-than-average presence there.
Spotify will also assign you a title for "Me in 2023," based on your streaming habits.
The Me in 2023 streaming habits come from a list of 12 "characters," including the vampire, the hypnotist, the time traveler, the fanatic and more. Each card summarizes that character's listening habits, such as luminary (you play light, upbeat music more than others), alchemist (you create more playlists than others) and shapeshifter (you're quick to move from one artist to the next).
Spotify will assign you a listening personality, called Me in 2023, but only if your listening results meet certain criteria.
Screenshots by Peter Butler/CNET
As with Sound Town, not everyone's listening habits qualify them for an assigned Me in 2023 personality. For Me in 2023, users must meet criteria for at least one of the 12 characters.
As each character is unique, each Me in 2023 character has different requirements. For example, to receive the alchemist, a user must have at least 10 public playlists. If you don't fit any of the criteria, your Wrapped roundup won't assign you a character at all. (You're not alone -- I have no character and no Sound Town.)
Because capitalism rules, and Spotify knows what a blockbuster of a thing it's got going with Wrapped, there are now ways to shop your yearly roundup. In the Spotify app, you can scroll down past the promotion for Wrapped, collected thank-you videos from your top artists and other related items to a section labeled, "Merch from your 2023 faves."
You might see a special deal on an album, or even a shirt or other item that's labeled a Wrapped Exclusive. My daughter, a big Melanie Martinez fan, was offered links to buy a T-shirt and sweatshirt that were both marked as being "only for top fans." Or you might see albums or items marked down if you're a top fan.
Spotify isn't leaving any money on the table: Users are even offered exclusive Wrapped merchandise for some of their favorite artists.
Screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET
Spotify's AI DJ, a personalized "host" that talks users through their favorite songs, also gets involved with Wrapped this year. For a week, the AI DJ will offer you commentary and playlists based on your Wrapped list. Fun tip: The DJ voice is modeled on that of Spotify's head of cultural partnerships, Xavier "X" Jernigan.
Want to share your Spotify Wrapped on social media, and show your entire crowd what an Alex G fan you are? It's simple to do.
Once you've watched your Wrapped roundup, as you flick through your Wrapped report again, the option to share will show after certain stats about your listening. You can just click that "share" button to download your result, or post it directly to common social-media apps. We have a guide to how to share and customize your Spotify Wrapped results.
You can go back and rewatch your Spotify Wrapped roundup as many times as you want. If you prefer the app, just open that and you should see a giant colorful promo that you can click on to replay the whole thing.
You can also go to Spotify Wrapped on the web and replay your roundup there.
Not everyone listens to Spotify, of course, and other streaming services have similar year-end lists. CNET has a guide to music streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and others. (But Spotify still tops our recommendations.)
Other music services do yearly wrapups. The YouTube Music Recap just came out on Thursday, and the Apple Music Replay came out Tuesday, beating Spotify Wrapped by one day. But nonmusic companies are in on the fad, too.
But possibly the weirdest one came from the world of fast food. For the last two years, MyMcDonald's Rewards members were sent a customized email rounding up their year in McD food and assigning them a "fan persona."
Who's No. 1 overall for Spotify Wrapped this year? It's me, hi, I'm the problem it's me. Or her. It's Taylor Swift, with more than 26.1 billion global streams. Here are some stats from Spotify.
Is anyone shocked by the No. 1 artist? If so, try to shake it off.