Former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama are taking their lucrative podcast package somewhere else after a renewal offer with Spotify failed to materialize.
The Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground Productions, is now shopping the podcast deal around for a multi-platform podcast deal, Bloomberg reported. Until now, Spotify has hosted “The Michelle Obama Podcast” and “Renegades: Born in the USA” podcast, a series of conversations between Barack Obama and legendary musician Bruce Springsteen. The Obamas siged a podcast package deal with Spotify in 2019.
“The company is instead talking to other distributors about a deal worth tens of millions of dollars, among the most lucrative in the podcasting business,” according to the report.
Among the companies the Obamas are looking at are Amazon’s Audible and iHeartMedial. Higher Ground had been negotiating with Spotify, but it “declined to make an offer,” Bloomberg reported.
“It has talked with multiple big networks, including Spotify, but the Swedish streaming giant declined to make an offer, according to three sources familiar with the discussions.”
The sticking point is that the Obamas want to be able to make multiple shows and release them on multiple platforms simultaneously, which would go against Spotify’s typical exclusives-based strategy, The Verge reported.
Another point of contention in the negotiations with Spotify, Bloomberg reported, is that the Obamas would only commit to each appearing in an eight-episode podcast. For some bidders, this “isn’t enough of a commitment to justify a deal” like other popular podcast titles that go beyond limited series.
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The former first couple is said to be looking for a deal estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars, among the most lucrative in the podcasting business.
Spotify has come under scrutiny lately for its mega deal with controversial podcaster Joe Rogan for his podcast, a deal reportedly worth $200 million. Rogan’s opinions about vaccines and the use of the “n” word led to musicians including Neil Young and Joni Mitchell to remove their music from the streaming service in protest. It’s unclear if the Rogan controversy contributed to the Obamas’ decision to end talks with Spotify.
In 2018, the Obamas signed a multi-year deal with streaming giant Netflix to develop content.
Photo: Former President Barack Obama, left, and former first lady Michelle Obama appear on stage during a community concert at the Obama Foundation Summit on Nov. 1, 2017, in Chicago. The first guest of Michelle Obama’s new podcast will have a familiar presidential face: Barack Obama. The former president will appear on “The Michelle Obama Podcast” on Spotify, the Obama’s Higher Ground and the streaming service announced Friday, July 24, 2020 . The podcast will debut on July 29. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, file)