A tale of 2 year-end reviews: YouTube vs. Spotify
Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Heading into the end of 2019, the team behind YouTube’s annual Rewind video had a lot to make up for. Their 2018 year-end video, “Everyone Controls Rewind,” has the dubious honor of being the website’s most-disliked video, earning more than 10 million dislikes from users in a little over a week.
Loaded to bear with celebrities and references to (non-YouTube) internet culture, “Everyone Controls Rewind” has been cited as an example of what happens when a platform falls far out of sync with its own users.
This year, YouTube played it safe with “For the Record,” a video montage celebrating the biggest creator moments of the year. The reaction so far has certainly been more positive than last year, but that isn’t saying much: As of this writing, “For the Record” sits at 2.6 million likes to 6.1 million dislikes, with critics panning it as a glorified countdown video that pales in comparison to the more creative Rewinds from past years.
Meanwhile, Spotify has a year-end feature of its own. The music streaming site recently unveiled its annual Spotify Wrapped, a personalized review of each user’s individual listening habits broken down by season, genre and artist, even going as far back as a decade.
The response from the internet has been huge. Chances are you’ve already seen Spotify Wrapped links posted all over your social media, and for good reason.
Impressively styled and designed for sharing, Wrapped reminds us all how music brings us together, even when our tastes differ vastly. The most brilliant piece is at the end: Premium subscribers receive thanks for being a part of the platform, and for free users, why, there’s even a special discount price to bring you into the Premium fold.
What did Spotify do right that YouTube seems to be struggling with? There are many factors at play (including residual anger from last year’s disastrous Rewind video), but one major difference can be found in the approach each platform took.
YouTube’s Rewind is a yearly showcase of community trends, highlighting the most-viewed videos and creators. There’s a problem in that, though: With millions of users watching more than 1 billion hours of video daily (by YouTube’s own estimates), it’s inevitable that many viewers will not appreciate or even recognize many of the names and moments featured in the year-end celebration. That’s a lot of people left out of the party.
Compare that to Spotify Wrapped, which offered each user a data-driven look at their own habits and interests over time. Listeners are reminded of how much value they get from Spotify before being pitched on the perks of a Premium subscription.
Though it will be some time before the numbers come in, it’s a likely bet that Wrapped will help Spotify continue its streak of boosting subscriber numbers every quarter. As a platform that has struggled for years to turn free users into paying customers, YouTube could stand to take notes.
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