Media and entertainment companies believe that everyone wants to hear the Obamas’ opinions. In 2019, Barack and Michelle Obama signed a deal with Spotify to produce content.
According to some reports, the deal was valued at $25 million. However, Spotify users didn’t have many chances to hear the Condescender In Chief or his consort. In 2020, the nine-episode Michelle Obama podcast was limited to a few episodes. Bruce Springsteen also released an eight-episode interview with Obama. The Obamas wanted their company to focus on “new, young voices” beyond the two miniseries.
Can you think of any two people that you would rather hear speak to each other than Obama and Springsteen, or vice versa? I don’t think so.
This was part of the problem Spotify had with their deal. They wanted more Barack Obama and Michelle — the media believes everyone loves the Obama family. Higher Ground was not crazy about the fact Spotify meant you couldn’t listen to its content anywhere else.
Spotify has decided to terminate its agreement with Higher Ground and the Obamas will be looking for new deals on podcast content.
Fox News reports that Bloomberg News reported that Higher Ground was seeking a deal to allow it to produce multiple shows and have them available on different platforms simultaneously. This could explain iHeart’s interest, as it hasn’t relied on an exclusive strategy to its podcasts in the past. Spotify and other potential bidders have already bowed out. A widely-released show will eventually end up on their platform. Spotify and Amazon have sought exclusive rights to promote their services.
Higher Ground, like Spotify, stipulates that the Obamas will only appear in short-run podcast series. This could prove to be a problem in any deal with any provider. According to Bloomberg, “for some bidders, a commitment for short podcast miniseries is not enough to justify a deal.”
The Obamas have signed lucrative deals with media companies and book publishers over the years. They signed a deal with Netflix in 2018 for an undisclosed but substantial sum. Ted Sarandos (chief content officer at Netflix) said that Barack and Michelle Obama were among the most highly-respected and well-recognized public figures in the world. He was able to highlight the stories of people who make a positive difference in their communities and work to improve the world.
They signed a $65 million book deal with Penguin Random House two years later. Spokane’s Spokesman-Review reported that a literary agent had more negative praise for the first couple than usual.
“He was very insightful in his first two novels”. According to the newspaper, Gail Ross, a Washington, D.C.-based literary agent said that “Who wouldn’t love to read this book?” She said that Michelle Obama is so loved that people will read everything she has to share about almost any topic’.
I am always fascinated by the Obamas’ fascination, but Spotify shows us that not everyone can afford to spend large sums of money to produce small amounts of content.