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Edition 8 · BS or Brilliant: How Spotify stole December 🎁


Above: Art by Taylor Callery

GSD, girl boss, rise and grind. Get that bread! Love what you do! There are enough productivity-infused corporate rallying cries to fill a wordy but lackluster presidential address. Productivity lords from Gary Vee to Elon Musk urge us to do more to be more. “Nobody ever changed the world on 40 hours a week” goes the Elonism.

WeWork walls encourage inhabitants to ‘embrace the hustle’ and ‘hustle harder’. Instagram’s finest hustle porn advises ‘hustle until you no longer have to introduce yourself’.

Down with hustle

From the outset, team CTC has always perceived the hustle fetish to be, well, rather fucking strange. And we’re not the only critics. Per Basecamp partner David Heinemeier Hansson “The vast majority of people beating the drums of hustle-mania are not the people doing the actual work. They’re the managers, financiers, and owners”. Similarly, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian warns “hustle porn is the most dangerous thing in tech”.

Encouraging a strong work ethic is fine. Elevating work to form the centerpiece of one’s identity is horribly misguided.

Perhaps the most brash, tongue-in-cheek expression of our disdain for hustle is the line on our website ‘everyone is welcome! Besides Gary Vee. Please, spare us.’

Above: Many love it, many hate it

Some label this exclusion as harsh. Why the dim opinion of Gary? Perhaps no one has done more to deify the hustle. One Gary Instagram Reel reveals he’s swallowed every piece of gum he’s ever chewed in his life. Why? “efficiency” he explains: “I don’t think I want to give up the 1/100th of a second putting it in a napkin. Just swallow that shit Spare us. Side note, Gary isn’t our favorite, but we do strive for balance and he’s not all bad. We did praise his NFT project VeeFriends in a previous BS or Brilliant. Still a great example of what a well-thought-out NFT project can be. Read it here.

GSD: The results are in!

Where does the divine adoration of ‘hustle’ leave us? A 2020 survey from Blind found that 83% of marketing and communications professionals are reporting burnout, the highest of any job function. A 2018 Pew Research Center study on youth anxiety revealed 95% of teens say having a job or career they enjoy is their top goal, above helping people who are in need (81%). Kindness counts for less at the altar of hustle.

Do this instead

So, a plea from team Cut the Crap: in between end-of-year demands, gift-hunting, and excess Mariah Carey on the airwaves, make time for balance this season. It’s been a long 2 years. Some thrived, many languished, floundered, and experienced unimaginable loss. While December can be wonderful, the holidays bring their own stressors - personal, financial, familial, and otherwise.

This month’s newsletter is intentionally shorter and more simple than usual. Why? The year’s end is a great time to slow down and simplify. So whether or not you’re celebrating something, prioritize wellbeing. As the American Poet Walt Whitman observed in Song of Myself - “I am large. I contain multitudes”. It’s rare that all that you are gets piqued by the daily demands of traditional work. So use the extra time to read a non-business book. Drink your preferred beverage from a regal mug. Call a friend or family member you’d love to reconnect with. Learn something for pleasure. You might even (gasp!) take the night off work and dare to dispose of your chewing gum in a napkin! Naughty you. Do anything but overwork. Work will still be here when you return (promise), your needy manager can chill, and everything’s gonna be just fine.


Spotify owns December. One e-consultancy writer describes it as "the only marketing campaign I add to my calendar". He’s referring, of course, to the brilliance of Spotify Wrapped, Spotify’s highly personalized end-of-year, in-app experience that gorgeously summarizes annual listening habits.

Already, Twitter mentions for Spotify Wrapped flow more freely than the hippiest of yoga studios, with Twitter citizens speculating what their top listens will be and apologizing for their questionable 2021 choices.

The wildly successful initiative achieved campaign nirvana - transcending cultural commentary to become the cultural occasion itself.

Above: The Wrapped release has become an occasion in and of itself

The lowdown on Spotify Wrapped

Wrapped started in 2015 when it was known as ‘The Year in Music’, listing the year’s most popular music as well as a user's top 100 songs. The format has grown and evolved each year since.

What started as a simple summary and playlist expanded to include a personalized in-app experience featuring quizzes (to guess listening habits), badges, and customized sharing options.

Here's a wrap of Spotify Wrapped’s performance:

Google Trends data shows mentions of ‘Spotify’ and ‘Spotify Wrapped’ have increased significantly year over year, suggesting Spotify’s ever-increasing evolution of Wrapped is worth the squeeze.

Above: Google search data shows interest in Spotify regularly spikes significantly in December

An army of influencers helped to expand the impact of Wrapped. Data from Traackr reveals from 2019 to 2020, there was a 620% increase in influencers mentioning the campaign.

The number of influencer posts on Instagram increased 1206%, which contributed to an 1109% increase in estimated impressions.




🧠 CRITICALLY-THINK: Hot take: Data and influencer marketing directly impact diversity issues Do algorithms limit the expression and discovery of diverse creators? ⚠️ CONCERNING: The top 1% of U.S. earners now hold more wealth than all of the middle class Those bastards. 👾 CUTTING-EDGE: The best inventions of 2021 Human ingenuity never stops. 🧑‍🎨 CREATIVE: Iceland mocks Zuck and invites you to the Icelandverse "Enhanced, actual reality without silly-looking headsets - everything is real!" 💩 CROCK OF SHIT: Metaverse job titles are here If this reality wasn't so stupid, we might not need a metaverse

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