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Spotify Wrapped 2023 adds an AI DJ and Blend to the annual personalized insights

Spotify's anticipated year-end review, Spotify Wrapped, has arrived today with several new features in store -- including an analysis of your listening habits called "Me in 2023," which describes not what you stream, but how; "Sound Town," which matches you with a city based on your listening history and shared artists affinity; and a hamburger-style layout of your favorite genres, designed for social sharing. Other popular Spotify features like Blend and the app's newer AI DJ will also now be integrated into Spotify's year-end review, with the latter offering a personalized experience based on your listening in 2023 along with AI-voiced commentary around your top artists, genres and songs.

Now in its ninth year, the theme for Spotify Wrapped 2023 is about celebrating what's "real," the company told an audience on Tuesday at a livestreamed preview event.

That's an especially timely theme, given that the rise of AI has made it hard to know "what content is generated and what is not," explained Spotify's Global Group Creative Director Marie Roenn, speaking at the event where Wrapped was unveiled alongside Spotify's year-end lists of top artists, albums, songs and podcasts.

Despite this focus, Wrapped this year will, in fact, include AI elements. The app's well-received AI DJ, whose voice and personality are based on Spotify’s head of Cultural Partnerships, Xavier “X” Jernigan, will guide Spotify users through their Wrapped experience, offering music and commentary throughout the first week after Wrapped launches.

Image Credits: Spotify: AI DJ Wrapped

Another addition will bring Blend's collaborative playlists into Wrapped. With Blend, friends can combine the songs they both like into a single playlist. Now, users will be able to create a Wrapped Blend of sorts by tapping on their "2023 Top Songs" filter and then inviting their friends to create a Blend with them, based on their year of listening.

Image Credits: Spotify Wrapped Blend

As in previous years, Spotify has also come up with other fun, social elements that turn its data and insights into sharable features.

The highlights this year include "Me in 2023," a personalized experience that will identify users as matching up with one of 12 listening characters that best describe the way you listen to music. For example, a "Shapeshifter" quickly moves from one artist to the next; "Luminary" plays light, upbeat music the most; the "Alchemist" creates playlists more than others do; and so on. Jernigan told the audience he was the latter, noting he made and listened to playlists more than the average person.

Image Credits: Spotify: Me in 2023

"Sound Town" also offers a new spin on Spotify's data by matching users to a city where listening habits are shared and the same artists are often streamed -- a feature that may make users feel more connected with the global streaming community.

Image Credits: Spotify: Sound Town

Meanwhile, Spotify has refreshed the way it shows users their Top 5's, with your Top 5 genres stacked up in a sandwich-style design --- which was also mirrored by the catering options at Spotify's live preview event, in fact.

Users' Top 5 Artists will now let you see the month your listening peaked for each artist. This could be tied to when you were seeing the artist live on tour. For example, with Taylor Swift's Eras Tour, fans may have prepped by streaming more Swift songs in advance. Swift was also unsurprisingly Spotify's most-streamed global artist with 26.1 billion global streams since January 1 and she broke her own record with "1989 (Taylor's Version)" which became the most-streamed album in a single day.

In addition to top artists and genres, users will again be able to see their top songs, podcasts and minutes listened in 2023.

Image Credits: Spotify Wrapped: Minutes Listened

Spotify is also bringing back Artist Messages, a feature where fans will receive video messages from their favorite artists, based on their listening history. This year, the Your Artist Messages feature will include over 40,000 artists, including big names like Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, Peso Pluma, NewJeans, SZA, KAROL G, Dolly Parton and others. Spotify estimates that the "vast majority" of users will get a message from an artist this year.

Keeping in line with the app's TikTok-inspired redesign earlier in 2023, users will gain access to their Wrapped feed from the app's Home Screen. Here, they'll also find Spotify's "best of" editorial playlists, merch from their top artists, concerts nearby and more.

Image Credits: Spotify Wrapped Home Feed

Wrapped is also making its way to the metaverse, with a Roblox tie-in. Spotify's Roblox app, "Spotify Island," will introduce a version of Wrapped called "WonderWrapped" where users will be able to get limited-edition merchandise, actually climb into the top charts and participate in other features.

Other integrations and tie-ups include a deal with FC Barcelona which will see players trying to guess each others' Wrapped in videos and will see Spotify featured on the LED screens at upcoming matches. Wrapped will also be integrated with Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri (you can ask for your "Top Songs 2023"). Meanwhile, audio-only Wrapped "Listening Parties" will go live on the web with select artists like Ava Max, JVKE, Chelsea Cutler, Lauren Daigle and others.

Spotify artists and podcasters will also again have access to their own individualized Wrapped microsites where they can review how their fans connected with their work during the year.

Image Credits: Spotify: Artists Wrapped

Image Credits: Spotify Podcasters Wrapped

Alongside the launch of Wrapped, Spotify also revealed its top artists, songs, albums and podcasts for the year. Globally, the top artists were (in order) Taylor Swift, Bad Bunny, The Weeknd, Drake, Peso Pluma, Feid, Travis Scott, SZA, Karol G and Lana Del Rey.

To honor Swift's win, Spotify included an in-app Easter Egg which will change the progress bar when playing a Swift song to match the song's Era color, while the progress button turns into a sparkle.

Top podcasts were The Joe Rogan Experience, Call Her Daddy, Huberman Lab, anything goes with emma chamberlain, On Purpose with Jay Shetty, Crime Junkie, This Past Weekend w/ Theo Von, Serial Killers, The Diary Of A CEO with Steven Bartlett and TED Talks Daily. Other top lists can be viewed on Spotify's blog.

While Wrapped is still an experience rival streamers try to copy with less success, this year's Wrapped feels a bit routine. In a year where AI is being celebrated -- and even Spotify is benefiting with its AI DJ -- we expected to see even more AI-inspired features, like a chatbot you could ask about your Wrapped data, or the inclusion of AI art at the very least. Instead, Spotify swung in the opposite direction, dubbing now the cultural moment to celebrate what's "real," not what's generated. It's a nod to the AI movement, but definitely not an embrace -- and perhaps a hesitation driven by how AI will impact music. After all, when AI can resurrect John Lennon, who knows what's still real?

Nevertheless, Wrapped remains a successful product, having grown from 30 million users engaging with the experience in 2017 to more than 120 million by 2021. Last year, Wrapped grew even bigger, seeing engagement that reached 156 million users by December 31.