I think most of us have already taken a look, but for those that are unaware, Spotify Wrapped just released again. It is always fun to see how many minutes you spent listening to music, what your favourite number was, and what your rank of listener is of your favourite artist. While I never really think too much about the data collection necessary to compile a Spotify Wrapped list, I recently stumbled across an article pointing it out.
A quote from the article really stuck with me because it got me thinking about Spotify’s data collection and I haven’t really been able to come up with a reason to disagree with the statement. It’s by Evan Greer, director of the digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future: “It’s kind of ironic that at the end of every year people are celebrating the fact that Spotify is spying on them”.
Assigned Traits by Spotify
Although I question the data collection of Spotify, I do think it is fun to see the new features added to the Spotify Wrapped. First of all, the listening personality is a feature that is reminiscent of the Myers-Briggs Type indicator test. Both use the letter abbreviations and list sixteen different personalities. The other new feature, the audio day, summarizes your day’s progression based on the music you listen to during different times of the day.
These features are always fun to share with friends, comparing what different personality types you have, your minutes spent listening, and who your favourite artist is. Whatever you think of Spotify, you have to admit that Spotify Wrapped is doing an incredible job at keeping people engaged with the platform.
Personally, I do look forward to my Spotify Year Overview. Moreover, seeing everyone’s Wrapped is also enjoyable and funny. What is your favourite artist? How many times did you loop for favourite song? And most interesting of all, do you agree with your assigned-by-spotify personality?
The Collection of Data
And I have to admit, Spotify Wrapped is very fun to view. More than other social media, it feels both less and more personal. Why? Because it only shows you data about the music you listen to, nothing more and nothing less. But your data is obviously used for more. If you use Spotify, you are probably very familiar with the numerous personal playlists Spotify compiles for you. Another example are the sometimes oddly personal advertisements you can get when not using Spotify Premium.
Then, do we like data collection if it takes the shape of something flashy and colourful, made to be shared with your friends? Or do we think that a company collecting what music you listen to, for how long, and other personal preferences simply not does have the same power as other companies/social media platforms on which we share pictures of ourselves and our environment? Maybe we do not care for the collection of our personal data after all? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments, since I do want to know what other people think about all of this!
About Spotify Wrapped Personal Data usage: https://www.wired.com/story/spotify-wrapped-user-data/#intcid=_wired-verso-hp-trending_c2324568-eab7-491d-bba4-fac8662cb027_popular4-1
The Myers-Briggs Indicator Test: https://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/
16 personality types: https://www.16personalities.com/personality-types
me: you should make a post on spotify wrapped
u: no i dont want to
u: proceeds to make a post about spotify wrapped
A lot of people aren’t aware that spotify is collecting the data. I’m passively aware of it, and this post has me thinking again. The thing is, in the current world, data collection is inevitable and everything is collecting my data. Unless I go live in the forest far away from society, I cannot escape my personal data being collected. Maybe this is a bit dystopic and pessimistic, but if my data is being collected anyway, I might as well get something fun out of it, like a spotify wrapped to share and laugh about with friends
I completely agree with Leanne’s point on this post (which was great to read!!), if they’re going to keep tabs on me, at least make it entertaining.
When I found out this year’s spotify wrapped had dropped I was in a cafe with some friends, and we all immediately opened it up and started watching it like little gremlins.
At the end of the day, I don’t even think that this type of data collection is the worst thing that Spotify has done lately (https://eu.usatoday.com/story/life/2022/10/22/how-much-per-spotify-stream/8094437001/), and I for one am very entertained by the colorful stories and love finding out what my friends have been listening to!
Thank you for your blog post, I found it very interesting, very well written and clear. I think that there is something quite faceless about Spotify’s data collection and I think that might have something to do with that you mentioned about not sharing photos and places and such. Like you say it’s personal, but in a different way than traditional social media, being centred around music and so people may not readily see problems with it like other platforms. There is certainly data that Spotify can squeeze out of us that is very interesting to advertisers but the information that we get shown in the wrapped does not really seem to all that dangerous. Perhaps also it has something to do with it being strictly an audio based platform as opposed to a visual one that people seem less concerned being in a such as visually dependent world that we live in.
I have adopted a similar attitude as leannejvl towards Spotify Wrapped. However, to me, the ‘every BigTech company is tapping my data already anyways’ sentiment, comes from the same whatever-corner when people claimed ‘they don’t keep any secrets for anyone anyways’ when the systematic workings of algorithms became publicly known. I agree with the arguments the article you refer to makes. Though we’re not instantly aware of the harm that is done through this data collecting, it shouldn’t in return give companies like Spotify give a free pass to profit off a marketing system reliant on personal data.
Very interesting post! I’ve never really thought about the implications of Spotify just having this much data on my listening habits. This might be due to their amazing PR of conveying it in a fun, shareable way through Spotify Wrapped. This way, Spotify gets ahead of a possible ‘data-leak scandal’. One is left to wonder how much and what data Spotify is actually recording, then. At the moment, it seems to be what songs the user is listening to in combination with when the user is listening to those songs. In that sense, the lack of backlash may be due to the fact that people regard this data is unimportant. But who knows, maybe in next year’s Wrapped, Spotify will show us where we listened music. That may be a bit more worrying.