Spotify Drops Podcast Deal Over Lack of Personal Appearances

Barack and Michelle Obama are searching for a new platform for their podcasts after Spotify declined to offer the former president and first lady a new contract.

The Swedish streaming giant is unhappy with the Obamas unwillingness to commit to actually appearing in person on their own podcasts. This limitation comes after Spotify signed the couple to an approximately $25 million deal in 2019. The former first couple insists on having their production company, Higher Ground, as “a platform for a range of voices.”

The Obamas will only be present on eight podcast episodes each under their new deal with another service. Their current contract with Spotify expires in October.

After paying $25 million for their services, Spotify is apparently underwhelmed with the return on their investment. Michelle Obama’s podcast launched in July 2020, and she appeared on only 10 episodes — the last being released over a year ago.

The former president’s podcast features only eight episodes and is a collection of conversations with Bruce Springstein called “Renegades: Born in the USA.” Eighteen episodes with actual participation by the Obamas for a $25 million deal after they left the White House.

The Obamas are said to be unhappy with Spotify’s insistence on exclusive streaming rights for their podcasts. All 18 that feature the former couple that were purchased for $25 million. Higher Ground is reported to be looking for a nonexclusive deal for the podcast content.

The Obamas are said to be in negotiations with Amazon’s Audible and iHeartMedia for their podcast rights. They look to produce several shows and be able to put them on multiple platforms, which in theory would diminish their value to the original platform.

Free enterprise being what it is, the former first couple is perfectly free to market their podcasts to whomever and for whatever price the market will bear. Still, being paid $25 million for personal appearances on exactly 18 podcasts would absolutely raise eyebrows if the media were inclined to look that way. But they’re not, and it will be quite interesting to see just how much the going rate will be for the Obama’s new podcasting contract.