“Hmm, that doesn’t sound right to us,” Spotify’s official account replied to Pop Base on X née Twitter. “Don’t worry, Wrapped is still counting past Oct. 31.”
People worried. Spotify fans have traditionally considered November and December to be cheat months to, say, blast holiday songs on repeat without the algorithms listening in. Likewise, the final days of October were considered akin to the week before Oscars voting for actors: when everyone pretends to be much cooler than they are. Showing off your Wrapped report has become a cultural event, after all.
Now that Spotify has extended the cutoff date indefinitely, how is anyone supposed to know how much time they have to secure a spot in their favorite artist’s top 1 percent of listeners?
If you’re concerned — or staring at your dusty old iPod and wondering how casual listening became so complicated — take a deep breath and allow us to walk you through the intricacies of Wrapped.
What is Spotify Wrapped and why is it popular?
Spotify Wrapped is an annual analysis of a user’s Spotify listening activity, including songs, artists and podcasts. The campaign began in 2016, a year after Spotify released a curated playlist called “Year in Music,” which allowed users to see what songs they listened to the most and how many hours they listened to music.
The release of the Wrapped list — typically in November or early December — is now eagerly anticipated by people who want to review their yearly listening data and find out their top artists of the year (assuming they didn’t already know.) The report is typically delivered as a brightly colored and totally shareable card.
It’s become such a big event that Apple Music created something similar with its Replay feature. So did The Washington Post.
Wrapped is easy social media fodder. People will flood their Instagram stories or X timelines with sometimes predictable, sometimes downright embarrassing reports on what they’re listening to. Confirmation that Beyonce’s “Break My Soul” got you through the drive to work each morning, or maybe that you worked way too hard on Tyla’s “Water” dance challenge.
Spotify, which essentially gets free marketing and advertising out of the features, likes to get cute with the lists. Last year, the company said most listeners embraced a “coastal grandmother” vibe, listening to songs by artists such as Natalie Cole, James Taylor, Nat King Cole and the Temptations. Other vibes included “Country Wedding,” which probably means weddings with country music, or weddings in the countryside. Whatever. Just click share, right?
How does Spotify Wrapped work and when is the cutoff date?
Spotify hasn’t shared a full explanation of how it translates streaming data into these reports. According to Billboard, it looks at the total number of streams (which Spotify says are counted when someone listens to a track for at least 30 seconds) to identify a user’s top artists, songs and albums.
The streaming service collects all that data up to a specific date and curates a sort of best-songs-of-the-year playlist for each user based on their listening habits.
When is that cutoff date? We don’t know anymore.
In 2019, Spotify’s official support account posted on Twitter (as X was called at the time) that “Wrapped only covers the 1st of January until the 31st of October for any given year” in response to a user wondering how their listening habits in December would impact their results.
Two years later, Brendan Codey, associate director for creator growth and programs at Spotify, confirmed that same time period to Newsweek.
“The reason we have this hard cutoff is just for the sake of campaign logistics,” he said. “We need to [quality assure] the site and we need to finalize assets for Wrapped, all of which takes a while. You throw Thanksgiving into the mix as well and we have even less time.”
That’s why many assumed the January-to-October period would hold in future years.
The company hasn’t responded to a request for comment since it tossed that notion out the window — nor to the countless howls of confusion across the internet.
“When is the last day? I need to fix my music,” as @kresselreece put it.
In the meantime, we can only speculate and do our best to resist the urge to play “All I Want for Christmas is You” over and over again on Nov. 1. But a later cutoff date isn’t bad news for everyone.
Last year, Taylor Swift fans scrambled to get her 10th album, “Midnights,” onto Wrapped lists when it dropped in late October, right before the presumed cutoff date.
The pop star’s latest album — a rereleased and rerecorded “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” — dropped even later in the month this year, on Friday. Thankfully, Swifties have at least a few extra days to spam her onto the top of their personal charts.