Obamas may leave Spotify as podcast deal winds down, report says

Production company Higher Ground is reportedly finding it hard to get projects approved

Justin Vallejo
New York
Saturday 05 February 2022 00:31 GMT
Joe Rogan calls Meghan Markle an 'American hussy' in unearthed podcast
Leer en Español

Barack and Michelle Obama are reportedly looking for alternatives to Spotify as their three-year deal nears its end.

The former president and first lady are said to be shopping around their production company Higher Ground Audio after struggling to get shows green-lit at the streaming giant, according to three industry sources quoted by Insider.

They’re also interested in putting forward "young new voices" rather than hosting podcasts themselves, according to Vanity Fair.

Mr Obama, 60, hosted an eight-episode podcast with Bruce Springsteen in 2021, Renegades: Born in the USA, while Ms Obama, 58, hosted a podcast that ran for about three months in 2020.

While Higher Ground has produced other podcasts with different hosts, the team reportedly complained about the difficulty of getting "additional shows off the ground", Vanity Fair reported.

Another source reportedly said the Obama company’s pitches don’t line up with Spotify’s interest in having shows that are popular and reach a wide audience.

Spotify has been aggressively competing in the podcast market with the signing of the world’s most popular podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience.

The company backed the comedian after musician despite Neil Young giving an ultimatum to kick him off the platform or lose his music.

Others like Taylor Swift issued similar threats over Spotify not censoring and exercising editorial control over his guests, while content creators including Prince Harry and Meghan Markle expressed concern over the platform hosting opinions they disagree with.

The Obamas have not publicly commented on the push to remove Rogan for hosting interviews with guests Dr Robert Malone and Dr Peter McCullough, who have expressed views on Covid-19 and the mRNA vaccines that run contrary to mainstream discourse.

Spotify announced it would create a coronavirus information hub as a result of the campaign to remove Rogan, but chief executive Daniel Ek said during a town hall meeting on Wednesday that the comedian would remain on the air despite strongly disagreeing with him on many issues.

"If we want even a shot at achieving our bold ambitions, it will mean having content on Spotify that many of us may not be proud to be associated with," he said, according to a transcript obtained by The Verge.

"Not anything goes, but there will be opinions, ideas, and beliefs that we disagree with strongly and even makes us angry or sad," he added.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in