Spotify declined to renew its podcast deal with Barack and Michelle Obama this week.
The service made the decision after the Obamas refused to make enough appearances on the service to justify a new, eight-figure contract. For context, Spotify signed them to a $25 million deal in 2019.
Spotify continues to show a backbone that few media companies have. Spotify stood by Joe Rogan through various witch-hunts last year, and then let the Obamas walk.
From a business standpoint, these decisions are obvious. Rogan drives revenue to Spotify; the Obamas never did. But that’s not how most media companies think, they also worry about their reputation among media peers. So credit to Spotify for running their business like a business.
As for the Obamas, they are now shopping their production company, Higher Ground, to multiple platforms. This time, they are looking for not exclusivity, as they had with Spotify, but the flexibility to release shows on multiple different services. So their shows are likely to remain on Spotify through a third-party provider, no different than Spotify offering podcasts that Westwood One produces.
The Obamas have already had discussions about taking their podcasts to Amazon’s Audible and iHeartMedia, Bloomberg News reports. Liberty Media Corporation is another audio provider to watch.
They could also take their content to a video streamer, like AppleTV+, Hulu or Peacock. Apple, most notably, broadcasts digital shows on AppleTV+, then repurposes the programs in podcast form (see The Problem with Jon Stewart, for example).
Higher Ground could also expand its relationship with Netflix into podcasting. Already, the Obamas have a deal to produce films and TV shows exclusively for Netflix. Though Netflix might not want to be wasting money these days, I hear.
Podcasts on the Higher Ground network include the Michelle Obama Podcast and Renegades: Born in the USA, which Barack infrequently co-hosted with Bruce Springsteen. Do you subscribe to any of those shows? Do you plan to? If so, let us know how they are.