How Spotify crafts a personalised experience through the harmony of data

Hannah Gallop

Hannah Gallop


Every December heralds the return of a global sensation: M̶a̶r̶i̶a̶h̶ C̶a̶r̶e̶y̶ Spotify Wrapped. 

Spotify Wrapped is an annual tradition in which the popular music streaming service delivers a personalised roundup of its users’ listening habits using data gathered from their Spotify usage over the past year. 

What makes Wrapped such a success is its impressive level of personalisation. While the abundance of data available in today’s digital age makes personalisation more attainable, few brands execute it as effectively as Spotify.

What is Spotify Wrapped?

Spotify Wrapped serves as a musical time capsule, offering users a curated summary of their listening habits of the past twelve months. Released towards the end of each year, it encompasses everything from the user's most listened to songs, artists and genres over the course of the year. In recent years, Spotify has expanded its offering beyond music to include podcasts, which are also incorporated into Wrapped. 

The Wrapped campaign, introduced in 2016, has evolved into much more than a statistical overview. It has become a multifaceted experience that encapsulates the essence of individual music journeys. 

At the core of Spotify Wrapped lies the art of personalisation. Raw data is transformed into an interactive and visually appealing experience that sets the music streaming service apart from its competitors. It brings the user's music journey to life with vibrant and shareable infographics designed for effortless sharing on various social media platforms. 

In a digital landscape inundated with user data, Spotify leverages this information to craft an experience that feels tailor made for each individual. By analysing listening patterns, favourite genres, and emerging trends, Spotify Wrapped is more than just numbers and statistics; it meticulously curates a unique and personal story that resonates with the user. The outcome is a distinct and shareable journey through the diverse and sometimes surprising musical choices that shaped the user's year.

How Spotify uses data to provide a personalised experience

What makes Wrapped such a success is its impressive level of personalisation. While the abundance of data available in today’s digital age makes this more attainable, few brands execute it as effectively as Spotify.

Over the years, Spotify has consistently elevated the campaign's impact by introducing greater interactivity and user-centric features. Initially, Wrapped focused on showcasing top artists, songs, and total minutes played, but it has since evolved to incorporate elements like a stories format akin to Instagram, podcast statistics, personalised playlists, interactive quizzes and more.

The data collected is used to create entertaining and personalised content that is easy to share across multiple social media platforms. These easy-to-share, engaging graphics and copy help foster social connections among users, resulting in a surge of user-generated content. From a brand awareness perspective, the benefits of this user-generated content cannot be overstated. In 2020, Spotify saw a significant 21% increase in app downloads as a result of Wrapped, highlighting the powerful impact of user-generated content.

While Wrapped has evolved into an annual tradition, Spotify employs AI and machine learning consistently throughout the year. This constant engagement allows Spotify to refine its understanding of individual preferences, ensuring that recommendations and experiences are always evolving alongside the user's musical taste.

The strategic use of user data remains central to Spotify's continuous enhancement of its offering. By analysing preferences, listening habits, and genre affinities, the platform curates bespoke playlists, exemplified by its most recent introduction of “Daylists”, which deliver a personalised selection of music throughout the day depending on users' historical listening patterns. 

When this new playlist was introduced in September 2023, Spotify said: “Throughout the day, your mood changes, and so does the music you listen to. Last night might have been a windows down, trillwave Monday evening, while this moment is more of a ’90s rave rainforest late night. The point is, you’re ever-changing, and your playlists should be too.”

This profound understanding of each user's musical taste ensures that recommendations resonate, fostering satisfaction and building user loyalty.

Why is personalised marketing important?

In a market saturated with choices, a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing is no longer sufficient. Taking to the stage is personalised marketing: a strategy that tailors content to suit the unique preferences and needs of each customer. 

Some key advantages of personalised marketing include:

  1. Enhanced customer experience

Personalised marketing allows brands to connect with customers by understanding their specific needs and anticipating their preferences. Such an approach creates a seamless and enjoyable journey for customers. Every interaction, from tailored product suggestions to personalised website content, allows brands to exceed customer expectations, resulting in a more positive and memorable experience. As this relationship grows, customers are more likely to rely on your recommendations and seek you out when they need something you can provide.

  1. Increased customer loyalty

Keeping customers happy is crucial for any business as it drives repeat customers, which make up around 65% of a company's business. Personalisation is a critical factor in building customer loyalty. According to Accenture, 91% of consumers are more inclined to shop with brands that recognise, remember, and offer relevant promotions and suggestions.

  1. Improved return on marketing investment

Personalised recommendations can incentivise customers to spend more. Almost half of surveyed shoppers made impulse purchases based on a brand’s suggestions, and 85% of these individuals were satisfied with their purchases. According to McKinsey & Company, a leading global producer of marketing insights, personalised marketing has the potential to increase sales by 10% or more and deliver up to 8 times the ROI on your marketing expenditure.

Transforming data into a symphony of personalisation

Spotify shows that when personalised marketing is executed correctly, everyone’s a winner, both businesses and customers. Their use of data resonates not only in the statistical insights it provides but in the emotional chord it strikes with each user. The personalised playlists, annual summaries, and constant adaptation to evolving musical tastes showcase Spotify's dedication to creating a platform that is not just about music but about the individual listener's unique journey through sound.

As we navigate the digital realm of music consumption, Spotify's innovative use of data sets a harmonious precedent, transforming numbers into notes and user data into a symphony of personalisation. With each algorithmically crafted playlist and annual recap, Spotify reaffirms its role not just as a music streaming giant but as a curator of personal soundtracks in the lives of millions around the world.

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