The Obamas are possibly looking into leaving Spotify for a new podcast partner

Currently on Spotify, the podcast The Big Hit Show is streaming. It’s about transformational moments in pop culture, and it’s produced through Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions, as part of their Spotify deal. This Big Hit Show is, I believe, the only podcast Higher Ground Productions is actively producing currently on Spotify, but I’m sure the Obamas have other podcasts in development after the success Renegades: Born in the USA (BO’s pod with Bruce Springsteen) and the Michelle Obama Podcast, which last had an episode in September 2020. The Obamas’ deal with Spotify was for three years, and they signed up in 2019. So… will they just let their deal lapse and go to another platform this year? Sources are rumbling about the Obamas’ unhappiness with Spotify, especially in the wake of all of this Joe Rogan bullsh-t. The Obamas themselves have not said anything about Rogan or Spotify directly, mind you. But there are rumblings.

The Obamas are said to be shopping for a new podcasting partner because they’re frustrated with the slow pace of development at Spotify, where they’re more interested in introducing new voices than on hosting shows themselves. Former President Barack Obama, 60, and former First Lady Michelle, 58, are looking at new deals with other companies, three podcast industry sources told Business Insider.

The duo’s Higher Ground Audio company signed a three-year deal with Spotify in June 2019, but sources say it can be hard to get a show green-lit at the Swedish music streamer. Moreover, the Obamas are more interested in putting forth ‘young new voices’ rather than on carrying shows themselves, according to Vanity Fair, which first reported rumblings of the couple’s dissatisfaction.

The news comes as Spotify faces backlash over Joe Rogan, the most popular podcaster on the platform, over what some call his peddling of COVID-19 misinformation.

One source told Insider that it’s possible the Obamas could renew their Spotify deal, though they now face stiffer competition than before as streaming services from Amazon and Apple have upped their investment in podcasts. Another source said that Higher Ground’s pitches don’t always align with Spotify’s interest in popular, wide-reaching shows.

[From The Daily Mail]

The Mail is (accurately) quoting from this Vanity Fair story about how Spotify needs Joe Rogan more than Rogan needs Spotify. Which is exactly what I’ve been saying during this whole Delete Spotify debacle – Rogan is the jewel in Spotify’s crown and the executives cannot and will not deplatform him. As for the Obamas… the VF piece basically makes it sound like the Obamas are exploring their options this year, and that if Spotify offered them a better deal and greenlighted some of their more niche podcasts, they would stay. Basically, it sounds like the Obamas are more concerned about raising other voices and getting paid as opposed to taking a stand against Joe Rogan. Which I understand, honestly.

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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11 Responses to “The Obamas are possibly looking into leaving Spotify for a new podcast partner”

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  1. equality says:

    So the “slow pace of development at spotify”? Could this be part of the reason H&M haven’t produced yet?

  2. Mslove says:

    I reread the Stand by Stephen King recently, and it started me thinking, if Covid were more deadly, how would society cope? How would we handle the Joe Rogans of the world? I hope the Obamas dump Spotify.

    • Jan90067 says:

      I read that book in one day/night when I was in college; I couldn’t put it down. Then I couldn’t sleep for a few days after! lol I think if Covid was worse, we’d all be dead, save a few hermits living off the grid in isolation… perhaps. I don’t know if the world could ever truly come together in the face of a real disaster; there will always be opportunists and evil (sadly!).

      I *do* think we’d be in a MUCH better place as a world if TFG and his ilk hadn’t raised the rock and let all the slime crawl out into the sunlight.

  3. Sofia says:

    Yeah this sounds more like (if true) them not being happy with Spotify in general (creative differences is probably the right word) than Rogan. Which is completely their right and they can feel whatever and however they want about Spotify. And I have no doubt they’re getting very high monetary offers along with things like creative freedom from Apple and other podcasters.

  4. Amy Bee says:

    It sounds more like the Obamas realised that podcasting is not for them.

  5. L4Frimaire says:

    I listened to a big NYTimes discussion on this yesterday, with Roxane Gay among the panel. She wrote an op-Ed of why she’ll drop Spotify but continues to publish with a Rupert Murdoch owned company, that it’s curation rather than censorship. Then seeing John Stewart being dragged for saying that he thinks the best way to combat Rogan would be to stay and amplify counter arguments. Others pointing out Rogan’s general toxicity and how he’s just not well prepared for interviews, and Spotify is fronting the money. Anyway, people will do what they think is right for them, Spotify will be under fire for a while, and I’ll continue to listen to the podcasts I like on Spotify and other platforms, none of which surprisingly, include Joe Rogan.

  6. Sophie says:

    I feel like they just have very different interests. The Obamas want to champion young Talents, but Spotify probably paid to reach as many people as possible by using the Obamas as a draw. Only hardcore fans will tune in to a young voice championed by the Obamas compared to the big number of people interested to hear Michelle. I think for the Sussexes it is similar, what Spotify had hoped for (the interesting inside intel that would draw millions) they gave away for free to Oprah and James Corden. So it will take a while until they find projects that both sides are interested in.

    • L4Frimaire says:

      I’m actually glad they got all that royal drama cleared in the Oprah interview. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. It would be crazy to use that information in a podcast. I think there is a lot they could talk about related to current politics and social issues, especially how it ties to the causes they support, the guests they’d have on and of course social media misinformation. It’s still very vague what exactly they will do and if they’ll produce other podcasts, as well as host one themselves.