Jewel Ham claims she proposed additional features to Spotify Wrapped during her three month design internship with the company, which lets users of the popular music streaming partake in the annual tradition of sharing how many times you played back those Summer Walker and Jazmine Sullivan tracks.
The international streaming service has allowed users to see their listening habits through Wrapped since 2013, but Ham said she suggested the more interactive format that is commonly used by Spotify users today. Her tweets quickly circulated throughout creative circles, resulting in criticism of how technology companies compensate – or fail to – those they are gaining ideas from.
“I really invented the spotify wrapped story concept as an intern project in 2019 and they havent looked back since LMAO,” the artist tweeted last year. “[F]or those of yall unfamliar with #SpotifyWrapped,” she added, “-it used to be an email and a playlist. since 2019, it has become an interactive user experience and that right there – was my idea!”
Those tweets have gone viral again recently as Spotify unveiled its 2021 Wrapped campaign.
Ham, a visual artist featured as one of “7 Contemporary Black Women Painters to Watch” in ESSENCE, said she was inspired by her own experience with Wrapped and a desire to share the information she received in a simple email blast in a fun way with her friends and family.
“I was a person that had Spotify and loved Wrapped, but it was just a link they would send at the end of the year,” she told Refinery 29. “It was just something that you personally knew about.”
“When I gave the presentation at the end of my intern project, it was received really well. They liked the idea. That was my last day,” she continued.
She backed up her claims by posting a screenshot of the designs she used to illustrate her ideas that echo the visual themes present in the current version of the feature.
Spotify denied the implications of her statements.
“Spotify is proud to provide young talent from all backgrounds with the opportunity to create, contribute, and learn alongside some of the best teams in the business,” a representative for the company reportedly told Refinery29 last year.
“Since Spotify’s Wrapped concept was first introduced in 2013, hundreds of employees have contributed ideas and creative concepts that have made the experience what it is today. While ideas generated during Spotify’s internship program have on occasion informed campaigns and products, based on our internal review, that is not the case here with Spotify Wrapped. It’s unfortunate that things have been characterised otherwise.”