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Can Apple Music Replay compete with Spotify Wrapped?

Spotify Wrapped was released Wednesday morning, taking the spotlight away from Apple Music Replay

SHARE Can Apple Music Replay compete with Spotify Wrapped?
Buildings are reflected behind the logo at an Apple Store in downtown Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017.

Buildings are reflected behind the logo at an Apple Store in downtown Chicago on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017.

Kiichiro Sato, Associated Press

Spotify Wrapped — the end-of-the-year musical recap for listeners — was just released Wednesday morning for the app’s users. Meanwhile, amid the rewinding and humble bragging, a competitor to Wrapped, Apple Music Replay, has made its return to the stage.

Can it compete?

Spotify Wrapped has been guiding its listeners on a nostalgic trip through their favorite songs of the year since 2016, riding on the model of 2015’s “Year in Music.” According to Vox, the Wrapped algorithm tracks the songs, artists and genres users have listened to throughout the year, while comparing the amount of time and clicks shared between Spotify users.

“From the oddly specific to the unapologetically predictable, 2022 Wrapped encourages listeners to peer into the vibrant kaleidoscope of their listening and show it off to the world,” Spotify wrote in a press release Wednesday morning.

Part of Wrapped’s popularity comes from the connection the campaign fosters between music lovers, artists and their social circles. Spotify Wrapped is sharing-friendly, in that the various statistics and patterns it reports are brightly wrapped and easy to share on other online platforms, such as Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Artist Messages recognize dedicated fans of top artists, as well, connecting the audience with the creator. This year offers exclusive “thank yous” from over 40,000 artists to the users with the highest number of minutes listened to from those artists.

Spotify leans into the fun of it all, too. Tech Crunch reported that on Snapchat, for example, Wrapped-themed lenses, GIFs and Bitmoji apparel are available through the end of the year. In the game Roblox, there’s even a Spotify Island to celebrate the annual music tradition. The campaign goes a step further with its algorithm, sorting users into fun categories based on their listening habits. Wrapped 2021 offered “Audio Auras” to capture the mood of their favorite songs, for example, while 2022 sorts users into Myers-Briggs inspired “listening personalities.”

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A trading post sports the Spotify logo on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, April 3, 2018.

Richard Drew, Associated Press

Wrapped isn’t without its flaws, however. In just the first day of Wrapped being released, HITC reported that several Spotify users have complained of the service not running properly, or being outright missing from their homepage. Reports of the statistical slideshow freezing and crashing are uncommon, but make participating in the campaign difficult.

For some time, Apple Music users have been left out of the fun. The revival of Apple Music Replay — originally launched in 2019 — puts it in the spotlight this year as a competitor and potential alternative to Wrapped. Replay’s list of features is significantly shorter than that of the Wrapped campaign, 9 to 5 Mac reported, making it difficult for the service to compete.

Replay compiles users’ total listening time for the year, as well as playlists of listeners’ top 100 songs for the year. A key difference between Replay and Wrapped is that where Wrapped only lasts for a little over a month, Replay is available year-round. While unavailable through the Apple Music app, Replay can be accessed via browser at any time, displaying the most popular songs of the year nationally and globally, too.

These playlists and statistics can be shared on other online platforms, but Replay has received criticism that accessing and sharing users’ stats is not as straightforward as with Wrapped. Screenshotting your most played songs is the primary way of sharing users’ top songs and artists, and the campaign lacks the interactivity and connectivity of its competitor.

Another complaint stems from the service’s lack of features and personalization. Where Spotify offers brightly colored summaries of a user’s most listened genres alongside their music moods throughout the day, Apple Music gives top artists and songs in a formal, difficult-to-find list. 

Apple Music Replay gives an easy-to-digest report on listeners’ most played music in the past 365 days and offers playlists that can be accessed for years to come. But as The Verge writes, Replay’s flaws result in it not being “optimized for the use case that has made Spotify Wrapped such a cultural phenomenon: social media sharing.”