Obama to leave Spotify, look for a deal with podcasts elsewhere Entertainment

Barack and Michelle Obama’s time with Spotify technology is coming to an end.

According to people familiar with the negotiations, the production company of the former first family Higher Ground will not sign a new contract with the audio platform. Instead, the company is talking to other distributors about a deal worth tens of millions of dollars, one of the most lucrative in the podcasting business.

Higher Ground is at the center of negotiations with several potential partners, including Amazon.com‘s Audible and iHeartMedia, said people who asked not to be identified because the conversations were private. The company wants to choose a new home in the next few weeks. He spoke to several major networks, including Spotify, but the Swedish streaming giant declined the offer, according to three sources familiar with the discussions.

Higher Ground is looking for a deal that will allow it to release multiple shows and release them on multiple platforms simultaneously. This could explain iHeart’s interest, given that it has not historically relied on an exclusive strategy for its podcasts. This is one of the reasons why some potential bidders, such as Spotify, refused – the widely released show will still be in their services. Companies such as Spotify and Amazon have sought exclusive rights to promote their services.

Each of the Obama family is ready to appear in a program of eight series, which for some participants is not enough commitment to justify a deal comparable to shows such as “SmartLess”, “Call her Dad” and “My Favorite” murder. ” “These shows are weekly or with a frequency close to that, while Obama’s Higher Ground programs have been limited series.

Higher Ground signed an agreement with the streaming music giant in 2019, when Obama was planning his media business after the presidency. Since then, the company has released several podcasts, starting with “The Michelle Obama Podcast,” in which the former first lady talks to friends and family about relationships. Spotify said the show was one of the five most popular podcasts in 2020.

Higher Ground and Spotify have been partners in the show as part of the current deal, meaning the future deal will be in new programming.

Higher Ground and Spotify clashed during their partnership. Both “Michelle Obama’s Podcast” and “Renegades: Born in the USA,” a show featuring conversations between Barack Obama and musician Bruce Springsteen, debuted exclusively on the platform. Only a few months later they switched to other services. That’s why Spotify paid Higher Ground, but the production company found that attachment to one service limits the audience for its shows.

The parties also disagreed as to what part of the company’s products would include the former president and first lady. Spotify wanted more shows featuring the two most famous people in the world, while Higher Ground hoped to use its deal to provide a platform for different voices. Higher Ground presented Spotify dozens of shows, but prepared five. In January, the company released The Big Hit Show, one of the only programs that did not include Obama. Sources familiar with their current deal said more Spotify programs will be released by the fall.

Spotify has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on work exclusively with some of the most popular podcasters, including Joe Rogan, Bill Simmons and Alex Cooper from “Call Her Daddy”. The company did this in hopes of earning on its stellar power to increase the reach of its app, while recouping the costs by selling advertising. He was less successful in making deals with major Oscar-nominated celebrities and filmmakers who had no experience creating podcasts.

Spotify’s investment has prompted Amazon and SiriusXM to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on their own deals, and Obama hopes to benefit from what has been a sparkling market. However, after Spotify did not bid, Obama’s list of potential homes fell by at least one.


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