Spotify Parts Ways With the Obamas

Haraz N. Ghanbari

The media and entertainment industry thinks that everybody wants to hear what the Obamas have to say. That’s why, back in 2019, Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions (yes, I roll my eyes at that company name too) signed a deal with streaming giant Spotify to produce content.


Reportedly, the deal was worth a whopping $25 million, but it didn’t mean that Spotify users had many opportunities to hear the Condescender in Chief or his consort. The nine-episode Michelle Obama Podcast was a limited series in 2020, and the former president released an eight-episode conversation with Bruce Springsteen. But that was it; beyond those two miniseries, the Obamas preferred that their company focus on developing “new, young voices.”

After all, can you think of two people you’d want to hear talk to each other less than Obama and Springsteen? I can’t.

That was part of the problem that Spotify had with the deal. They wanted more Barack and Michelle — remember, the media thinks everybody loves the Obamas. On the other side of the coin, Higher Ground wasn’t crazy about the fact that the Spotify agreement meant that you couldn’t hear its content anywhere else.

Related: Obama Mixes Up the British Isles in Climate Speech

Spotify has decided not to renew the deal with Higher Ground, and the Obamas are looking elsewhere for a deal on their podcast content.

Fox News quotes Bloomberg News reporting that “Higher Ground is seeking a deal that will allow it to produce several shows and release them on multiple platforms at the same time. This could explain iHeart’s interest given that it hasn’t historically relied on an exclusive strategy for its podcasts. This is one reason why some potential bidders, like Spotify, have bowed out — a widely released show will end up on their service anyway. Companies like Spotify and Amazon have pursued exclusive rights to promote their own services.”


As in the Spotify deal, Higher Ground is specifying that the Obamas would only appear in short, limited-run podcast series, which could be a sticking point in a deal with any provider. The Bloomberg report noted that “for some bidders [a commitment to short podcast miniseries] isn’t enough of a commitment to justify a deal.”

Over the past few years, the Obamas have snapped up lucrative deals from sycophantic book publishers and media companies. In 2018, they signed a deal with Netflix for an undisclosed, but certainly large, sum of money. At the time, Ted Sarandos, the chief content officer at Netflix, gag-inducingly said, “Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world’s most respected and highly-recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better.”

Two years later, they signed a $65 million book deal with Penguin Random House. The Spokesman-Review out of Spokane, Wash., quoted a literary agent with more disgustingly effusive praise for the former first couple.

“’He was very revelatory in his first two books. Who wouldn’t want to read this one?’ Washington, D.C.-based literary agent Gail Ross said,” according to the newspaper. “Michelle Obama, she added, is so beloved that most people would ‘read anything she has to say about pretty much any subject.’”


The fascination with the Obamas never ceases to amaze me, but Spotify is showing us that not everyone is willing to keep shelling out enormous stacks of cash for them to create small amounts of content.


Trending on PJ Media Videos

Join the conversation as a VIP Member