🎙️ Gen Z Wrapped: A critical preface
How much music Gen Z is listening to, who and what we're listening to, when we listen and most importantly why.
Music is and has always been at the forefront of culture.
Music is about the people and songs that move us through lyrics and rhythms, connecting to our emotions and unlocking deep feelings that resonate with the times.
Music is about the changing methods of production and musical structures that fluctuate alongside the changing influences and technologies of our world.
Music is culture.
For every generation, music has played pivotal roles in the developmental and young adult years. Music is and has always been consumed to feel, to connect, to find comfort, and to escape from the noise of life. From its first days on the radio to tape players to the Walkman (just learned what that is…) to CD players, music consumption has evolved right alongside humanity’s technological advances.
And in October of 2001, Apple released the iPod. Jobs famously framed this device as having 1,000 songs in your pocket.
Anyone born after that moment (I think they call them Gen Z?) was born into a world where music became a constant companion, with thousands and soon after millions of songs accessible in an instant, on a portable device. Right alongside the iPod was iTunes, an unimaginably large library of songs accessible to purchase and download onto your device. Yet even these developments happened primarily before any Gen Z’er would have their first memories of a music-playing innovation; that came with Pandora and the onset of streaming.
Music streaming today
Today, music means something different. An entire generation of people has been raised with Spotify, YouTube, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music etc, giving us an unprecedented ability to instantly search and play any song that has ever been produced. And for Gen Z, most of this streaming is happening on Spotify.
Our poll of 600 Gen Z’ers showed us 63% prefer Spotify as the streaming service of choice, compared to 43% of Millennials, 27% of Gen X and 11.4% of Boomers.
It’s a platform that, on one day of the year, becomes the talking point of the entire music-listening world. And on that day, we were paying attention.
On December 1, 2021, Spotify users received their Spotify Wrapped, a very personalized highlight of their most listened to songs and artists of the year. This is a critical cultural moment - a moment where your entire musical taste of the year gets summed up in one final highlight, and you have the opportunity to share that with the world. And for Gen Z, that sharing happens nearly unanimously across Instagram. Every Instagram story on December 1st and 2nd was, more or less, some format of this:
And in anticipation of this moment, our team collected these screenshots from Gen Z’ers across the country. 568 of them to be exact. We scraped the text from the images and compiled a list of Gen Z’s top artists, top songs, top genres, and average minutes listened over the course of (almost) a year. So yes, we now have this super cool report that has Gen Z’s top artists, songs, genres, minutes, and analysis on all of that.
But it’s also so much more than that.
What is Gen Z Wrapped 2022 really about?
This report is about the story that music tells about Gen Z.
It’s about the way culture and technology are reflected through a generation’s listening habits.
It’s about understanding how TikTok has singlehandedly changed the way music is produced and composed, blending entire genres and creating the possibility to engineer virality.
It’s about how COVID’s destruction of an entire generation’s high school and college experience has reflected itself in the songs and artists we listen to.
Gen Z Wrapped is about how this generation has grown up in a similar way to other generations, with noise around us and needs to escape through music. But it’s also about a key difference; how today this noise gets constantly recircled and shoved in our faces through social media.
It’s about how platforms like Spotify give us that unprecedented ability to instantly play any song, any artist, and any genre at any instant. It’s about that same ability to play any song at any instant being used to tune in to any specific emotion at any instant. To find the exact playlist and order of songs that will utterly tear you apart, that will make you scream out of your window or cry alone in your bedroom.
It’s about understanding how having the type of access we do today to something as powerful as music can change who we are and how we cope with the world around us.
I leave you with a quote to ponder - a quote we introduce at the end of the report as one that evokes a powerful question, one that is critical to solve.
“People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands - literally thousands - of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.”
- Nick Hornby, High Fidelity
While I do hate asking you to take additional action, if you’d like to see the report please just enter a few quick bits of info here so that we can keep a good track of how many people download it. It will help us a lot in future years to know the growth YoY. Thank you <3