Dec 21, 2022 - Technology

Everyone is getting in on Spotify's year-in-review act

Illustration of shapes and icons including a burger, video game controller, and hearts in the style of the Spotify wrapped branding

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Spotify Wrapped, the music service's personalized year-in-review playlist, has grown so popular that all manner of consumer services are now trying a similar approach, from GrubHub to Nintendo to dating services.

Why it matters: Whether presented in aggregate, individually, or both, these year-end wrap-ups are a powerful way to present usage data back to users. The trick for the service provider is to offer fun and findings without creeping people out.

Among those getting in on the act were news and information sites like Reddit and The Washington Post, activity trackers like Strava and delivery firms like Instacart and GrubHub.

The big picture: These year-end reviews from service providers can provide customers with a sense they got their money's worth and, at best, serve up some interesting insights.

  • The Los Angeles Times, for example, told me that I read 21 articles last year, which sadly was more than 45% of subscribers. (I actually read far more articles, but largely through Apple News+, which I pay for.)
  • Nintendo let me know that my most-played games (actually, my son's most- played games) were FIFA 2021 Soccer, Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Mario+Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
  • Duolingo would have told me how much progress I'd made on a foreign language, if I'd made any progress at all, that is.
  • For frequent users, Instacart's year-in-review can reveal interesting grocery shopping patterns (if that's a thing). For me, it was a reminder of the time in April I got stuck in Vancouver with COVID, as well as a happier, more recent trip to Maui — the two occasions I really used Instacart this year.

Some services are providing aggregate insights rather than individualized years-in-review.

  • This year these pulse-of-the-nation takers tell us that burritos were the most popular item on GrubHub — and that there's been a significant rise in the popularity of "reality porn" on PornHub.
  • From Tinder's Year-in-Swipe, I learned that "situationships" are a thing.

Yes, but: These wrap-ups also serve as a reminder of just how much data about us these services have collected.

  • The information they're wrapping up for you is the same stuff they're mining aggressively to boost revenue.

Be smart: Shared accounts can also ruin the fun.

  • As I and many parents have discovered, when your family shares an account, Spotify's Wrapped list is largely a reminder of what songs the kid had on repeat.
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