The holidays are the highlight of the final months of the year, and it’s the perfect time to think about reflection – and right now, for Spotify users, that reflection takes the form of their Spotify Wrapped yearly round-up.
Every year around this time Spotify takes over the internet, bringing music lovers together to share their most-streamed music of the past 12 months. As a Spotify user myself I’m not embarrassed to admit that Wrapped is on my mind all year round. Even though my predictions for what my Wrapped recap will look like are pretty much spot on each year, it’s a fun way to compare my music habits with my friends and tease them for their taste.
Personal stats aside, Spotify also announced its most-streamed artists and songs of 2023, revealing insights into user habits and overall streaming behavior over the past year – and they’re interesting to say the least. This year more than ever, Spotify Wrapped results are a testament to how rapidly the world of music streaming is evolving, reflecting the impact of social media on trending music, and how new means of music discovery are changing the user experience.
From TikTok’s rising influence on streaming to geographical trends, here are five things that Spotify Wrapped tells us about 2023’s listening habits.
1. The rise of podcasts
Not only is Spotify the Holy Grail for music streaming, it’s a trusted platform for podcast listening, and its 2023 stats have put it on the map for being the most-used audio podcast platform. In 2023 podcasts had a significant role in expanding music’s role and cultural relevance.
Cultural conversations around streaming became more prevalent in the past year, with the likes of Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and the Barbie movie discussed across different genres of podcasts. While there was no single topic that solidified a trend, the topics of discussion suggest that podcast listeners want to be part of a community just as much as music fans, with those communities offering opportunities for engagement and a sense of belonging.
2. TikTok’s powerful influence
It’s no surprise that TikTok had an impact on the top artists, songs, and trends revealed by Wrapped 2023. It’s now something of a tradition that songs made popular by video-sharing platforms rank in the top streamed songs of the year, and while 2023 Wrapped is no different, the stats reveal the growing impact of TikTok on music.
If you’re an avid TikTok user, Miley Cyrus’s Flowers most likely took over your "For You Page” (FYP) in January 2023. Since its release at the beginning of the year, it’s been featured in over 5.5 million videos on TikTok. SZA’s “Kill Bill” has been used in over 217.1k TikTok videos. Given these stats on TikTok, it’s no surprise that they became the top two most streamed songs globally, with Miley Cyrus taking first place after breaking the record for fastest song to reach 1 billion streams on Spotify.
3. The art of the re-release
2023 was the year of Taylor Swift. In the past 12 months she’s been inescapable, gracing fans with not one but three different albums: her tenth album Midnights, which was the second most-streamed album of 2023, and two re-releases, Speak Now and 1989.
Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) hit the highest single-day numbers for Spotify at the time of its release, going on to break Swift’s own record, set when she released 1989 (Taylor’s Version). Combined with the record-breaking Midnights, the streaming numbers from her re-releases ushered her to the top of Spotify Wrapped, making her the most-streamed artist of the year.
It’s certainly not a reach to say that Swift has been the pioneer of the re-release trend, and other artists have quickly caught on to this strategy in the past year, having seen the impact it’s had on Swift’s streaming numbers.
Despite not having released a studio album since January 2022, The Weeknd crawled his way into the top streamed artists list, taking third place worldwide. You could say this was due to his starring role in HBO’s The Idol, which raised his profile despite the show proving to be a flop, but it was the re-release of his 2016 album Starboy that gave his streaming numbers an extra bump.
The Weeknd’s resurgence started with his collaboration with Ariana Grande on the remix version of Die For You, which reached number six on the Spotify charts. Its success prompted a re-release of the original song as a single, followed by a sped-up version, the popularity of which is a testament to social media edits. A deluxe version of Starboy came out in March, resulting in a streaming spike, and claiming the spot of fourth most-streamed album of the year despite having originally been released seven years ago.
4. Music discovery changes and genre blending
Spotify Wrapped 2023 stats show it’s been the year of ‘more is more’. Music fans want more options, and easier ways to access new music, than ever before. The demand has been sky-high, and Spotify’s answer came in the form of upgrading the user experience.
Spotify unveiled a revamp of its user interface at its Stream On event in March, reimagining the home page to include previews of upcoming songs, albums, and podcasts. It’s an understatement to say that Spotify has picked up on the impact of TikTok, introducing a vertical video feed in early 2023 that actively takes the form of a typical TikTok FYP which users can quickly refer to for accessible music and genre discovery.
While long-form videos are nothing new, this year’s spike in genre-blending can be put down in large part to the impact of Spotify’s visual integrations. 2023 Wrapped stats reveal that among Gen-Z users, the genre-hybrid trend is on the rise. As well as floating between sounds and genres, Spotify users are shifting towards ‘mood-based’ music, yearning for sounds and playlists that represent their current state of mind.
5. Music becomes even more global
World music trends also made an impact on this year’s Spotify Wrapped stats, to the extent that Spotify introduced ‘Wrapped Mapped’, a feature that matches your music taste to a particular city.
Reflecting a crossover of sounds between cultures and continents, the popularity of Afrobeats has grown massively since 2017, with streams of leading artists like Rema, Burna Boy, and Libianca increasing by 550%. Elsewhere, Wrapped’s artist video messages mark K-Pop’s dominant presence, with groups TWICE and NewJeans recording fan messages alongside the artists that topped Spotify’s streams this year- SZA, Taylor Swift, Troye Sivan, just to name a few.
Growing demand for Europop, fueled by May’s Eurovision Song Contest, also produced chart-toppers, with Loreen and her winning song Tattoo landing in Spotify’s top 10 global daily chart alongside Käärijä’s Cha Cha Cha.
The personal element of Spotify Wrapped is always the most exciting part, but this year’s global stats show us that music streaming is evolving right in front of us. The influence that TikTok has on streaming habits is substantial, and the aesthetic phenomena that rise from video-sharing platforms will continue to contribute to the way Spotify users engage in discovering new music and curating playlists.
Wrapped 2023 is evidence that streaming, social media, and popular culture are actively influencing the way we consume digital music. The outcomes for next year’s Spotify Wrapped are ambiguous, however, we can certainly take a shot at guessing how music will rank on Spotify’s global streaming chart.
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Rowan is an Editorial Associate and Apprentice Writer for TechRadar. A recent addition to the news team, he is involved in generating stories for topics that spread across TechRadar's categories. His interests in audio tech and knowledge in entertainment culture help bring the latest updates in tech news to our readers.