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#SpotifyWrapped: A Deep Dive into Spotify’s Incredibly Valuable Earned Audience

Dec 17, 2019 | Insights

Today, we’re focusing on one of the streaming audio industry’s leaders, Spotify, and a promotional perk they’ve offered this month to those who subscribe to their commercial-free, paid premium service. This year’s end/decade’s end treat is called #SpotifyWrapped, and it is really awesome.

The #SpotifyWrapped feature provides users with a number of fun and beautiful charts and graphs, detailing favorite songs and album titles, artist names, podcasts, and all related numbers. In short, each Spotify customer is given a personalized story of their year and/or decade in listening. Hundreds of thousands of people have been sharing their stories across social media, blogs, and forums.

StatSocial is here to shine a light on the Spotify customers who have taken to #SpotifyWrapped— in demographics, media affinities, favorite influencers, brands, hobbies, personality traits, and Digital Tribe associations — not only comparing them to the average consumer, but also to the average Spotify customer as well.

Let’s dig in.

The musical acts for whom the hundreds and hundreds of thousands who came online these past two weeks to post about #SpotifyWrapped display the strongest passions. Up front, L-R: Brendon Urie (of Panic! At The Disco), Joji, Post Malone, Kim Petras, one half of Twenty One Pilots, Halsey, the other half of Twenty One Pilots, cupcakKe. And in the back, L-R: Billie Eilish and Rich Brian. Not pictured: NCT (there are just too many of them).
Some 2019 #SpotifyWrapped results for StatSocial Founder & President, Michael Hussey.

A BIT ABOUT WHAT WE DO

The data StatSocial utilizes for our insights is sourced from the earned engagement (meaning, what people read, like, follow, share, and talk about online) of over 300 million consumers. The analysis of all the content people engage with — which is made available in every StatSocial report — creates over 85,000 unique attributes per consumer.

Our analysis can be applied to virtually any sort of online audience you can imagine, from the customers of a certain brand, to the fans of a specific performer, or — as is the case here — those posting about a certain topic, or using a specific hashtag (or hashtags), or anything else you can imagine.

TO ILLUSTRATE

Here’s a quick guide to reading the numerous charts you’ll find in this entry.

The below example indicates that 9.86% of those who posted online using the #SpotifyWrapped hashtag are fans of Post Malone. This exceeds the percentage of Post Malone fans within the average American online audience by 9.38 times. This, of course, means that right now about 1.05% of the average American online audience identifies as fans of Post Malone.

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So, enough of the gab. Let’s get to the stats.

#SPOTIFYWRAPPED DEMOGRAPHICS

EXPLANATION: The index score quantifies, at-a-glance, the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in line with, exceeds, or falls short of the baseline. For example: 52% of those posting about #SpotifyWrapped are males. This exceeds the degree to which males can be found within the average American online audience by 1.04 times.

Things here skew slightly, but not dramatically, male. Commenting on this would be premature, as it’s quite likely that with such a close-to-even split, we may not find this overwhelmingly relevant to what we’ll be exploring below.

But who knows yet? Let’s keep going and see.

EXPLANATION: The index score quantifies, at-a-glance, the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in line with, exceeds, or falls short of the baseline. For example: 57.87% of those posting about #SpotifyWrapped are between ages 18 and 24. This exceeds the degree to which males can be found within the average American online audience by 2.28 times.

Now here is a set of statistics that are very likely to be relevant to the insights we’ll be providing below. Nearly 58% of the #SpotifyWrapped audience are between ages 18 and 24, a segment-size that exceeds that which would be found among the average American online audience by 2.28 times.

With 78% of the audience being either Millennials or Zoomers — demographics that (as an aside) are oh-so desirable to marketers, natch — we expect to see the preferences explored below reflecting this.

A somewhat surprising result for such a young audience. Of course, all of these figures could be argued to be more-or-less statistically in line with our baseline, meaning #SpotifyWrapped is popular with consumers at all income levels.

#SPOTIFYWRAPPED FAVORITE MUSICAL ACTS

Let’s get things started with what all of this is truly about, shall we?

EXPLANATION: The index score quantifies the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in line with, exceeds or falls short of the baseline or average. For example, 2.14% of the #SpotifyWrapped audience identifies as fans of Rich Brian. This segment-size exceeds what you’d find among the average American online audience by 8.22 times.

Fans all over this fine planet took to Spotify this year to stream the music of one Mr. Post Malone; a man who seems so legitimately friendly and likable, he most certainly has more than done his part to change the narrative on facial tattoos.

During 2019, Mr. Malone’s music was streamed on the platform over 6.5 billion times. While he most certainly finds love among this #SpotifyWrapped audience to a degree profoundly exceeding what you’d find within the average American online audience, he has been outstripped in outstripping the baseline.

Billie Eilish (left) and the other half of the act, brother, co-writer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, Finneas O’Connell (right).

Spotify’s second most streamed artist in 2019, Ms. Billie Eilish — the single artist to whom “the year in pop” can most likely be said to have belonged — finds love among the #SpotifyWrapped crowd to a degree that exceeds the index by a whopping 8.79 times. Yet still, she finds herself in fifth place here.

This audience adores Billie Eilish vastly more so than the average American online audience, and that means quite a lot given how popular the soon-to-be-18-year old superstar is.

There’s been a sizable niche-following for K-pop in the states for a number of years now. The prefab pop acts of Korea’s music industry have been able to tour the states to strong response, particularly in markets that contain a large population of Korean-Americans.

In recent times that changed, and a genre with a passionate, but ultimately “cult,” stateside following has become one of the major concerns of younger listeners across the nation. The biggest boy band of the moment is Korea’s BTS. Formed by Korean company, Big Hit Entertainment in 2013, the group currently dominates the dreams and bedroom walls of young devotees around the globe. Say what you will of Gen Z attention spans, but the group has SEVEN members, and the kids seem to be able to remember them all.

Korea’s idol industry has provided some of that nation’s strongest exports throughout Asia for ages, but the BTS breakthrough seems a harbinger of a full-scale idol invasion to arrive on these shores in massive waves over the coming years.

The act ranking at number two here, with love for them among the #SpotifyWrapped audience being greater than the baseline by 9.43 times, is NCT. The name, no joke, stands for “Neo Culture Technology.” It’s a lot to deal with, we know.

We’ll spare you an in-depth explanation of how many K-Pop idol acts have what is essentially a farm team system. There’s a main act, and then a sort of adjacent junior tier, the members of whom hope to ascend to the A team. But, you can Google all of this yourself, and just chew on the fact that SM Entertainment’s globally beloved NCT is made up of 21 adorable Korean boys with very stylish haircuts. The love these 21 lads find among the #SpotifyWrapped audience exceeds the baseline by 9.43 times.

Rich Brian (left) and Joji (right)

A very different kind of East Asian-centric musical scene is represented above in the form of acts associated with the New York City-based media company, 88rising. Their roster is focused on Asian-American and Asian acts of a full variety of nationalities and ethnicities.

Two of the company’s most immediately recognizable performers are repped above. First, Indonesian rapper and producer, Rich Brian, one of many such artists to initially achieve notoriety through SoundCloud, from where his first single “Dat $tick” really excited listeners. From there he was able to parlay his internet moment into deserved mainstream success. He finds fans here to a degree 8.22 times greater than he does among the average American online audience.

The other 88rising star named above is Joji.

The biography of George “Joji” Miller is far too lengthy to recount here. Raised in Japan, the half-Japanese / half-Australian performer first achieved major fame as the mad mind behind YouTube’s wildly popular Filthy Frank character (and the countless surreal and consciously stupid characters that inhabited his “omniverse”).

Well, he first achieved major fame as the unwitting inventor of 2013’s inescapable “Harlem Shake” meme. But the less said on that, the better.

To the consternation of his dedicated fanbase of literal millions, in 2017 he bid all of that goodbye for good. For some time he’d been posting non-comedic songs to SoundCloud, and eventually his material evolved to where 88Rising made the very wise decision to sign him up.

His sweet singing voice, straightforward lovelorn lyrics, and lo-fi, R&B flavored production make for an appealing combination. His good looks, obscured during his Filthy Frank days, have seemed to do him no harm either.

As of this writing, Joji’s video for his late-2018 single, “Slow Dancing in the Dark” has been viewed on YouTube over 117 million times. Take that, Filthy Frank. Joji fans dwell amongst this audience to a degree 9.22 times beyond the index.

Enough yammering about the list, as you can see it for yourself. Ohio’s Twenty One Pilots — whose 2018 album, ‘Trench,’ was a critical fave — confidently top the list. Affinity for them among this #SpotifyWrapped crowd exceeds the degree to which their fans can be found among the average American online audience by 11.82 times.

LET’S LOOK AT THESE INSIGHTS FROM DIFFERENT ANGLES AND THROUGH DIFFERENT LENSES

All of the above insights were calculated by contrasting the percentages with what you’d find within the average American online audience.

StatSocial allows users, however, to customize the baseline for their studies. Say you’re a marketer who wants to know how the quantity of NBC viewers within your audience compares to those within the audience of a competitor, or perhaps you instead want to compare two competitors (the possible combinations are endless, so we’ll cut this short here), your needs can be easily met.

What about the online audience for Spotify itself? Meaning, the millions online who we identify as users and admirers of the Spotify platform. It makes a lot of sense to contrast the favorite acts of those who posted online using the #SpotifyWrapped hashtag with that audience’s statistics.

Those posting the hashtag seem to be a very definite segment of the greater Spotify audience, and the final results reflect this.

Side-by-side, let’s compare what is probably the most significant difference between the audiences of Spotify, the platform, and those who posted about #SpotifyWrapped.

EXPLANATION: 21% of those who posted online using the #SpotifyWrapped hashtag over the past couple of weeks are over 35-years of age. 52% of those within the greater Spotify audience exceed age 35. Using the full Spotify online audience for our baseline, this segment under-indexes dramatically in comparison. Indeed, 0.41 times.

Or looking at these statistics in a possibly more immediately comprehensible way, let’s flip the comparison.

EXPLANATION: 52% of those within the greater Spotify audience exceed age 35. 21% of those who posted online using the #SpotifyWrapped hashtag over the past couple of weeks are over 35. The 35-and-over segment of Spotify’s greater audience exceeds that segment within the #SpotifyWrapped audience by 2.46 times.

A majority of Spotify’s full online audience is over age 35. Here, we’re referring to that as “post-millennial,” but we do realize that your mileage may vary on the matter. Nonetheless, the contrast between this insight and the mere 21% of the #SpotifyWrapped audience exceeding 35-years of age is dramatic.

And with that, using Spotify, the platform’s, audience as our baseline, let’s see which of the #SpotifyWrapped audience’s favorite musical acts contrasted most profoundly.

EXPLANATION: The index score quantifies the degree to which the corresponding percentage is in line with, exceeds or falls short of the baseline or average. For this chart, we’re using the online audience for streaming audio platform, Spotify. For example, 1.10% of the #SpotifyWrapped audience identifies as fans Gorillaz. This segment-size exceeds what you’d find among Spotify’s online audience by 7.33 times.

Love for NCT among the #SpotifyWrapped community exceeds the degree to which such love is evident among the general Spotify online audience by a staggering 18.94 times. They over-index against the preferences of Spotify’s general audience to a degree approaching twice what they do with the average American online audience.

The tiny little K-Pop ensemble known as NCT.

The age disparity surely reveals itself in this dramatic over-indexing for a group with, very probably, comparably few fans over age 35.

Kim Petras

More surprising are the substantial degrees to which cupcakKe and Kim Petras’ popularity among the #SpotifyWrapped crowd exceeds the affinities evident among the general Spotify online audience.

While quite popular in certain circles, it seems evident hat Spotify is a platform where these artists are still finding their respective footings.

Some additional names that have found their way onto this list that are worth noting are FKA twigs, whose 2019 release, ‘Magdalene,’ is not merely gracing, but topping many critics’ “Best of the Year” surveys, and Japan’s Babymetal.

If unfamiliar with the latter, but the marriage of sugary-sweet, J-Pop idol music and ferocious speed metal sounds like something up your alley, then you’ve been missing out for about five years or so, now.

The one act that might arguably buck expectation when dealing with such a young audience is Britain’s Gorillaz.

The stadium headlining virtual band was started by Damon Albarn, originally of the band Blur (relatively big in the states, positively massive in the U.K.), over 20 years ago. The band’s co-founder, Jamie Hewlett, is a cartoonist, well-known, at the time the group formed, for his strip ‘Tank Girl.’

50-somethings, or not, the kids love them.

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Returning to the average American online audience as our baseline, we’ve also calculated which musical acts resonate most strongly with Spotify’s general audience.

The acts are more established, more veteran (with Lorde being, what, 23, it’s difficult to say she’s a veteran, but for our purposes she is). These are the sorts of giant megastars you might expect to see here.

Lorde (left) and Pharrell Williams (right)

Still, love for Coldplay among the greater Spotify audience exceeds the percentage of fans you’d find among the average American online audience by 3.02 times.

We provide this statistic without comment.

BACK TO THE MATTER AT HAND

Returning to strictly the #SpotifyWrapped audience, and to solely using the average American online audience as our baseline, let us continue.

Here’s a matter of importance. Labels, as such, are not quite what they were, as some don’t really deal in the production and distribution of physical media at all. They’re more, like, managers and PR firms… But whatever they are, these are the five for which the #SpotifyWrapped bunch displayed the strongest affinity, and that over-indexed most dramatically against the baseline.

Big Hit Entertainment brought us, and your tween, BTS. Their name brings to mind that old adage that it ain’t bragging if it’s true.

Cole Bennett’s Lyrical Lemonade is a good example of a company that isn’t quite a label, but a multimedia production and promotion company.

OWSLA is an Atlantic Records distributed label, co-founded by Skrillex.

Warp is a legendary British electronic label, and home to absolutely essential albums by the likes of Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, and Autechre.

And, well, you all know what Def Jam is.

OTHER MEDIA AND BRAND AFFINITIES

AH, but Spotify is not just about music. It’s about streaming audio of all types. The platform is, accordingly, a major one for podcast listeners.

Below are the 10 podcasts whose love among the #SpotifyWrapped crowd over-indexes most profoundly when compared to the average American online audience.

A fun combination of popular, but largely quality podcasts. While the medium’s current king, Mr. Joe Rogan, appeals to the largest percentage of this audience, and that percentage exceeds the baseline by a rather significant 5.29 times, he’s still at the bottom of this list.

If you’re not familiar with Nardwuar the Human Serviette, do yourself the immense favor of becoming so, post-haste. There is no interviewer in the business who comes remotely close. A true force of nature, and one receiving love from the #SpotifyWrapped audience to a degree exceeding the baseline by 7.71 times.

The podcast of one of the most widely-loved veteran mega-YouTubers, Jenna Marbles, and her longtime boyfriend, Julien Solomita, find their usually endearing show ranking here in 5th place, exceeding the baseline by 8.63 times.

The McElroy brothers, of both the ‘My Brother, My Brother & Me’ and ‘The Adventure Zone’ podcasts.

The winners here, however, would be podcasting’s first family, Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. Their podcasts ‘My Brother, My Brother & Me’ and ‘The Adventure Zone’ have both rated highly; exceeding the baseline by 8.02 times and 11.25 times respectively.

Former Disney Channel, ‘Suite Life’ star Cole Sprouse, is all growded up now. He, of course, plays Jughead on the CW’s “dark Archie” mystery-drama, ‘Riverdale.’ He receives affection from the #SpotifyWrapped crowd to an extent that exceeds the fondness for him you’d find expressed among the average U.S. online audience by 6.28 times.

Twitch/YouTube star, Pokimane, earns a slot on the list, as does the YouTube creator with whom she briefly had beef at the start of 2019 (although he’s well-known for a great deal more than that, such as the fact that he’s the first independent YouTube creator to ever come anywhere close to having 100,000,000 subscribers, a number he has surpassed), PewDiePie.

Two YouTube behemoths who, for whatever reason, go mostly ignored by the mainstream media, both rate highly with the #SpotifyWrapped crowd: YouTube veteran, and platform superstar, Shane Dawson, and beauty influencer extraordinaire, and cosmetics mogul, Jeffree Star.

Jeffree Star (left) and Shane Dawson (right) in an ad for their record, and internet, breaking makeup palette collab, ‘Conspiracy.’

In October, Shane began to upload his docu-series, ‘The Beautiful World of Jeffree Star.’ Filmed between February and November of 2019, the series documented the soup-to-nuts process of Shane, a cosmetics novice, and Jeffree developing a makeup palette (and a whole line of other products) together.

The launch of their collaborative collection was the biggest of its type in the history of the cosmetics industry. Nary a peep was detectable, however, among the mainstream. The young folks know, nevertheless, that Shane and Jeffree are as famous as any movie star, and probably as famous as the host of any late night talk show, or TV actor. The #SpotifyWrapped gang stans the pair to degrees exceeding the average American online audience baseline by 5.76 and 5.33 times respectively.

While on the subject of YouTube…

All big channels, all featuring widely-known creators. This has been a massive year for MrBeast, however. Only 21-years of age now, and in charge of what appears to be a sizable production operation, his endurance and philanthropic stunts routinely garner millions and millions of views each.

What can be said about the above, except that half the shows on it are Netflix series, three of the shows on it are animated (albeit, not precisely appropriate for children), and all of it seems pretty consistent with what you’d imagine the 18 to 24 set viewing.

Five of the TV programs that resonate most profoundly with the #SpotifyWrapped audience are Netflix original series.

Still, each of these programs finds that they receive a quantity of love from the #SpotifyWrapped audience that rather dramatically exceeds what you’d find among the average U.S. online audience.

And finally, because we must.

These brands, as it turns out, are very “on brand” with the audience that has revealed itself throughout this entry. Cosmetics brands rate highly, as do two restaurant chains, and two widely-played video games.

Also, a music festival that all of a certain age have become convinced is THE place to be. Whether or not they have actually attended is immaterial, all the same this audience’s affection for Coachella exceeds the baseline by 4.21 times.

The list is topped by KCON. If you’ve been following you may guess correctly, more or less, what KCON is (hint, those are not the call letters of a west coast radio station — well, they may be, but that’s not what this KCON is).

KCON is an event, hosted all over the world, but recent years have found it taking place in various U.S. locations. It features a huge array of South Korean idol acts, participating in Q&As, meet and greets, and of course performances. Merchandise and collectibles are for sale, there are panels, and the whole shebang. Our hearts go out to every father loving and patient enough to spend three days in such an environment.

KCON 2019, at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Anyway, the #SpotifyWrapped contingent exhibits fondness for KCON to a degree that exceeds the baseline by 9.60 times.

We’ve gone on long enough. Please peruse the footer!

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