Data Storytelling: How Spotify Wrapped Hooks the World

The holiday season isn't the only thing to look forward to come late November. Spotify Wrapped is the early Christmas gift that hijacks social media and conversations for a few days of music-centric buzz. Data storytelling at its finest, Spotify Wrapped generates a series of personalized insights on users' listening habits to tell the unique story of their year.

Like clockwork, Instagram is flooded with gleeful listeners and artists sharing their Wrapped the day it drops. You read that correctly, artists get in on the fun too. They get to see how their music performed, from how many listeners they amassed to the number of countries from which their music was streamed.

In 2021, Spotify Wrapped engaged over 120 million users.

Why do so many of us, myself included, go crazy for the annual review? Let's unwrap the keys to Spotify's continued success.


Personalization is the most obvious reason for the success of Spotify Wrapped. It simply would not exist without it. It is its lifeblood.

Prioritizing personalization is imperative to effective marketing efforts today.

One page of personalized data storytelling that's withstood the years of Wrapped is "My Top Genres." It's always neat to see what comes out on top. Equally fun is finding unexpected genres in your top five. I don't know what Alt Z is, but apparently I listen to a lot of it.

One's music taste is a story in and of itself. Spotify will remind you of that one sad ballad you had on repeat after a breakup or the peppy Disney musical number you listened to an embarrassing number of times, showing that you're still a kid at heart.


Since its inception in 2016, Spotify Wrapped has gotten increasingly creative with its personalized data storytelling, stretching beyond top genres to one's "audio aura" in 2021 and "audio day" this year.

While the oddly specific moods for each time of the day range from sounding like seasonal scented candles to caffeine-free tea blends, they are perfect for this generation of Spotify users. Furthermore, they can take on a life outside of the app. I've already had friends text me their most apt musical mood and comment on mine. Word spreads like wildfire.

The descriptions are like the results to a BuzzFeed quiz, both specific and vague enough to fit most anyone while still feeling personal. The audio day moods can suit you and a million other listeners. Everyone's happy.

Taking this a step further, this year's Spotify Wrapped generated a listening personality for each user. Personality tests are all the rage, from the Myers-Briggs to the enneagram, people eating up their results and badgering others to try them out.

Spotify pays close attention to such trends to stay relevant. What captivates users is constantly shifting, so marketing strategies have to as well.

This is where data and storytelling beautifully intersect. Users receive a whole blurb on their listening personality. It's the story of who you are when your headphones are in.

Spotify makes a direct nod to the Myers-Briggs test by assigning a 4-letter acronym to each personality. ENLU to represent exploration, newness, loyalty, and uniqueness. It can be worn like a badge of honor. I can see the merchandise now.


So where does customization come in? A small but noteworthy feature of Wrapped is the option to choose from four designs for the final roundup of top artists, top songs, etc. that we will take a look at later.

You aren't customizing the design, but you're customizing how you'll present your Wrapped to the world (the world being however many followers you have on whichever social media platform you prefer).


We wrote of our population's decreasing attention span in our blog on snackable content, which is why Spotify is smart to keep Wrapped brief. It condenses a year into a handful of pages.


If you watch your entire Wrapped unfold without clicking ahead, it takes 3 minutes. Short and sweet.


This year, as seen above, Spotify went with neon geometric graphics. Spotify used a similarly bold but simplistic style in 2021. This is a significant change from years before, such as 2018's bare-bones design.


The biggest design takeaways: be sparing with text and generous with color.

The final piece of Spotify Wrapped is a 100-song—101 for 2022 to spice things up—playlist, all of your most-listened-to beats accounted for.

This contributes to the longevity of each Wrapped. After the excitement has died down, everyone is still listening to their new playlist. Sometimes I'll revisit my old Wrapped playlists months or even years later to explore the finished chapters of my musical story.

Spotify Wrapped demonstrates mastery in data storytelling. Be concise, visually striking, and personalized. If you follow that basic formula, users will be hooked.

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