What our YouTube Music Recaps reveal about us
Dec 22, 2022 – minute read
Dec 22, 2022 – minute read
Music is a social and personal thing that’s deeply correlated with experience — time, place and emotion. It’s also a constant companion for many of our YouTube Music users.
Imagine a collection of patches or buttons on a jean jacket and what they say about you. This year’s music recap is our next step towards creating a digital version of that jean jacket.
That’s why our 2022 Recap, which launched earlier this month, isn't just about statistics. By bringing back your memories from the past year, it encourages you to reflect on what you’ve experienced and how much you’ve grown.
Imagine a collection of patches or buttons on a jean jacket and what they say about you. This year’s music recap is our next step towards creating a digital version of that jean jacket — a social identity platform revealing who you are musically.
Without skipping a beat, let’s dive into how music on YouTube can map to identity and personality.
It’s probably not surprising that a lot of us on the YouTube Music + Premium team are obsessed with discovering new artists and tracking our music history. Our seasonal and year-end music recaps were born out of that passion and through the lens of reminding our users that they’ve discovered new artists, gone deep on old favorites and spent a significant amount of time surrounded by music.
This year, our Recap gave one of eight music personality types to each user: The Vibe Setter, The Beat Boss, The Mellow Mixologist, The Deep Wanderer, The Alt Party Starter, The Vibe Diver, The Party Pioneer and The Alt Explorer.
It feels pretty spot-on that I’ve been identified as the Alt Explorer. You can count on the Alt Explorer to lead you to what’s new and what’s next. Throughout my career in music, I’ve always looked for anything and everything that sounds great — going all the way back to one of my first jobs managing a record store in college.
Alt Explorers pull together threads and go down rabbit holes, like (purely hypothetically) listening to Kamasi Washington after hearing him on Kendrick Lamar’s record and noticing him playing with Robert Glasper and a band called Dinner Party.
A big part of the Recap is unveiling which unique artists you’ve come across this past year. For me, it was the amazingly talented Franco-American duo Domi and JD Beck.
Domi plays the keyboard and JD plays drums in an insanely fast way that’s almost akin to an electronic Jungle beat or Drill’n’Bass. Anderson Paak signed them to his label and they’re everything that jazz can be — bridging sounds from Herbie Hancock (whom they feature on a track) and current artists like Thundercat and Snoop. Earlier this year, I saw their show at the Swedish American Hall with my son and we left feeling so grateful for the discovery.
For our 2022 End-of-Year Recap, we brought in Google Photos to match your top songs to your favorite photos as shareable cards. It was truly a chocolate and peanut butter moment, since many of our users love Google Photos, photos are memories and memories are stronger with music.
In line with how music is connected to time, place and even weather, I remember being in London when PJ Harvey’s “Let England Shake” dropped. I probably listened to it a dozen times. When I see a photo from the trip or hear a song from the record, I’m immediately transported back to those walks around Trafalgar Square, the Thames and Tate.
This year, my Recap was full of shots of outdoor hikes from everywhere to the Bay Area to Iceland: all set to Angel Olsen’s “Big Time” record. I recently revisited the record again when she re-released the single with a feature from Sturgill Simpson. Those two voices coming together on the record was chillingly beautiful and one of my music highlights of the year.
When I grew up, we had limited outlets for finding music: a handful of TV stations, the radio and friends. Fast forward a few decades and music discovery is on a completely different scale.
Short-form video and excellent curation and song placement in TV shows, movies and even YouTube videos have opened up new vectors. That’s exactly why we introduced Creator Music at our Made on YouTube event earlier this year, which gives creators easy access to our catalog and helps fans make connections with new artists and songs.
But outside of the digital space, our network of friends are still so important to music discovery. I had a friend who lived across the street who introduced me to The Smiths and to The Cure via mixtapes that were lovingly curated. While a mixtape is forever and static, our listeners today are creating and updating playlists in a public and constantly evolving way. And the humble mixtape (in the form of playlists) continues to thrive.
Not to mention that many of our users, especially those who skew younger, are relatively boundless when it comes to their tastes. They’re less allegiant to specific genres and are traversing different styles, genres and eras — trying new things, going deep on some, collecting and curating, moving on from what doesn’t stick, and showcasing their evolving music by sharing it with friends.
So much of YouTube’s music catalog doesn't exist elsewhere: live performances, remixes, mashups, DJ sets, acoustic sessions and more. I think of YouTube as a kind of Smithsonian of music history. If something was captured on video or film, there’s a good chance you can find it here — from Johnny Cash’s live performance on the Grand Old Opry to Prince’s incredible solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
This amazing catalog of music was a big part of why I joined YouTube. While interviewing for the job, I found the exact video of a punk rock performance that opened up a whole new world of music for me. When the band Husker Du came on my favorite afternoon talk show in 1987, they were loud, raucous, and irreverent. I had never seen anything like it, and couldn’t wait to tell my friends about it at school the next day.
I’m pretty sure there is a similar memory for just about all of us in the catalog, which is part of what makes YouTube so powerful and universal. You can go deep with just about any band or any artist, and you might just learn something about yourself along the way. Our hope is that our music recaps give you an insight into not only how you’ve progressed musically, but also into who you are.