Here’s Why Your Spotify Wrapped Stats are Wrong

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Spotify Wrapped: Your Top Songs of the Year
Or are they?

Sharing your Spotify Wrapped results is fun. But it also leads to some questions. Is this really the song I listened to the most? How is this artist I’ve been binging *not* in my top 5?
But it must be right. Isn’t Spotify wrapped a report of my year’s listening activity? Well yes. And no. Let me explain.

Here’s my top 5 on Spotify

And here’s my top 5 from

Similar, yes, but wouldn’t you expect them to be identical? So what’s the difference? 

Here's the Issue

Spotify isn’t super transparent about its tracking. But on Last.Fm I can watch every track stream in real time. 

So we can trust is an accurate baseline. Therefore, I looked to Spotify’s tracking methods to discover a reason for the discrepancy. And voila: this moderator post on the Spotify Community board reveals the answer.

What date range does Wrapped cover?

January 1st to October 31st, 2019.
Any listening after this won’t be included. This gives our teams enough time to assemble everything.

In other words, the songs you play in November and December are not counted in your Year Wrapped stats. Now we can see why people are sometimes surprised by Spotify’s top picks. The songs you’ve been listening to lately, those in most recent memory, aren’t considered at all. 

It also makes sense that there’s a cutoff date. Spotify has to prepare the data and create the slideshow. And of course any listening that happens after the Year Wrapped is released won’t count. But then why do it at the beginning of December? Why not make it a New Year’s tradition? Also, why does it take 2 months to prepare data that tracks in real time? I can go there any day of the year and get an up to date report of my listening history for any date range I want. I’m sure there are perfectly reasonable answers to these questions, I just don’t know what they are. Feel free to enlighten me!

Right now you may be thinking, okay big deal. Your top artists and songs were almost identical anyway. True, but mostly just by chance. In November and December of 2019, I listened to a lot of Red Hot Chili Peppers, according to Too late for 2019 Wrapped and too early for 2020 Wrapped, so RHCP didn’t appear on my Spotify lists at all. But check it out – they’re actually in my Top 5 Artists over the last year!  

And just for fun, let’s see my top 5 songs over the past full year: 

Now, 3 out of the top 5 songs are different than what Spotify displayed. How much do you think your top 5 would change if all your plays were counted?

Bonus Reason

If you only listen to music on Spotify, this reason won’t affect you. But there’s a lot of good music on other platforms that’s not on Spotify at all. If your listening habits also include listening on places like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube, etc then your results will be even more skewed. Obviously, none of those songs will appear in your Spotify Wrapped. But tracks listening from all of those places too. If one of your favorite albums is only on Bandcamp, those songs could easily be in your real top 5. Unbeknownst to you and anyone who only sees the Spotify Wrapped post you share at the end of the year. 

Recapping What We've Learned

  1. Your Year Wrapped from Spotify isn’t as accurate as you think
  2. Mostly because it’s based only on listening data from Jan-Oct. Songs played in Nov-Dec don’t count towards anything. 
  3. tracks all your listening all the time. You can use their charts to see your “real” stats for comparison.