Why don’t I love the Annual Music Report?

Watching my circle of friends being flooded with the "Annual Music Report" from NetEase Cloud and QQ Music, I realized that this year is coming to an end soon.

For many people, sharing the "Annual Music Report" has become a fixed ritual, and this report, which seems to be "tailor-made" for each user, has also become the "annual test" of music streaming media – —Compared with creativity, design, and communication.

However, the "Annual Music Report" that attracted me most this year did not come from NetEase Cloud, which is the best at playing H5, nor from Spotify, which has the most powerful algorithm, but from a Xiaohongshu user.

Make the annual playlist a tape, or make a more "beautiful" annual music report?

User "jigejigeji" shared on Xiaohongshu that he has been burning his "collection" songs into tapes since 2011, and he can randomly pick one up and listen to it when he goes out.

▲ The picture comes from Xiaohongshu user "jigejigeji"

Moreover, he would also hand-draw the cover art for each tape himself.

This year, he has carved more than ten tapes, each with a unique cover, containing memories from different times.

▲ The picture comes from Xiaohongshu user "jigejigeji"

I can't deny that the music + memories (annual review) + the tape carrier of the self-painted cover simply hit the moving triple link in my heart.

But what makes this even more inspiring for me is that it reminds me that we don’t have to wait for music streamers to tell us who our “song of the year” and “artist of the year” are, we can decide for ourselves.

In his Walkman, the songs selected for the annual songs are not necessarily the songs that have been played the most this year, but the music that he actively chooses to collect and decides he likes.

I know that we originally liked to read the "Annual Music Report", more from a data perspective, to see if we have any listening habits or preferences that we are not even aware of. By the way, we can also further confirm our understanding of specific singers and Music type like.

But we must admit that this type of report has been around for 7 or 8 years, and it has changed from simply "discovering more about myself" to "this is the reflection of my musical taste" and part of our "identity label".

When the report matches our own musical taste, we will naturally happily forward it and share it;

Sometimes, even brushing up on other people’s annual music reports can be a way to strengthen your own identity:

22-year-old Alfonso Velasquez told Vox that he likes to read other people’s Spotify annual music summaries because in silent comparison with other people’s music reports, he feels that his own music taste is really independent.

If the gap between summary and self-perception is too big, then everyone will be in a bad mood, especially if your "Song of the Year" is an unfamiliar song that you accidentally played on a loop one night. ; Or it may be a technical error. This year, users have reported that songs they have never heard of appear in their reports .

Sometimes, it's not good to be too "real". For example, if people see that you actually love high-frequency songs that don't fit your "musical personality".

There are even many people abroad who are obsessed with studying the algorithm behind Spotify's annual report, or the number of months the platform uses to make summaries.

What's more, there are tutorials that will teach you how to find some free time before Spotify's annual music summary is released, and open the software to play some albums that match the "music personality" in a loop, so that the annual report will be more "pretty" .

From a certain perspective, you can also say that this is our annual music summary that we "select" through our own efforts. It can also be said that it requires the same "effort" as self-selecting the annual songs to make a tape.

The fundamental difference between the two, however, is what rules of the game we choose and whether we remember why.

Who is defining our "favorite music" and "memories"?

Recently, Amazon founder Bezos discussed a very common misunderstanding in a podcast – viewing "agents of truth" as "truth."

For example, someone in the company set a KPI, which once represented the "best customer experience" that Amazon pursued.

After a few years, consumers and the market have changed, and even a group of employees may have changed, but people are still pursuing this KPI, and even completing this KPI will be a good customer experience.

At this time, this KPI becomes the "agent of truth." Achieving this KPI does not mean that the customer experience is good, but most people forget this.

To put it very simply, this can be regarded as an evolution of the concept of "never forget the original intention".

Now, a lot of data and AI based content often makes me feel this way.

Over the past few years, various annual music reports have become a proxy for "musical taste" and "musical memories", but the algorithmic logic behind them is often not transparent.

Kate Holmes, a senior technology industry designer, mentioned in "Mismatch" that we subconsciously think that machines are impartial:

Humans are unfair, we are unreliable and fallible. But we want technology to be fair.

We are more inclined to believe that inanimate things are largely impartial and unbiased.

Although there are more discussions about algorithmic bias now, many times we may still forget that there are people behind the algorithms and that behind the rules themselves are a set of values.

Not only do we unconsciously "work hard" for the annual music report, but we also "work hard" when it comes to sleep.

WSJ once focused on a group of "hard-core" sleep tracking software users, some of whom have turned sleep into a competitive sport and tried their best to get "high scores" on the sleep software.

This investment also creates more stress, which in turn affects actual sleep quality.

This year's popular Pokémon Sleep, a game where users rely on "getting a good night's sleep", made it a little difficult for 28-year-old Joshua Bryzik:

He usually wakes up naturally after sleeping for 7.5 hours, but because the game defines 8.5 hours as "best performance," he has to follow the rules: "I will close my eyes, hoping to sleep for one more hour, but that usually makes me Feeling worse after waking up."

Of course, the "clear rules" faced by Bryzik are much easier to deal with, but it is even harder to guess the black-box evaluation criteria in the algorithm.

If sleep quality can be considered a set of things that can be judged based on data and research (of course, one cannot ignore one's own feelings), then "memory" seems to be more of a subjective emotion like "favorite music".

The “Journal” application launched by Apple some time ago is a smart “diary” combined with algorithms.

It can provide "note suggestions" based on the user's data , showing the songs you have listened to today, the photos you have taken, and the roads you have traveled, helping you recall what happened today. It can be said to be the best solution for "blank document phobia" Very friendly.

But in the long run, this friendly feature may also change the way we "remember":

In the past, when we wrote diaries, we might recall by time of day, or search by emotional intensity, but driven by "note suggestions", we remember things without any digital traces (or anything that can enter the Journal algorithm) Or ideas, will it be more difficult?

To be honest, many of my memories of the past few years are indeed "defined" by the moments recorded in the photos on my phone. It wasn’t until I chatted more about “that time” with my friends that I remembered that there were so many other things going on at that moment.

Those moments that are not recorded in words outside of data slip away too easily.

However, music and smell are particularly special "carriers" of memories.

When I start thinking back to last year, I can almost hear Willis Alan Ramsey's "Northeast Texas Women."

I have carried this song with me since my dad played it to me once in the car in 2022.

We were in the desert, with the windows rolled down, and the smell of sagebrush and sun-dried sand hung in the air.

Even at that moment, I began to feel nostalgic – those 5 minutes and 51 seconds of country music in the Mojave Desert.

For Atlantic Monthly writer Nancy Walecki, this is the most important musical memory in her heart.

But in her Spotify report, the song certainly didn't chart.

It's just a trivial "play record".

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