How the Obamas Took Spotify for a Ride

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April 21, 2022

When Spotify in 2019 signed a roughly $25 million deal with Barack and Michelle Obama to produce podcasts, the media hailed the move as a triumph in the audio streaming service's quest to become "the world's No. 1 audio platform." Now, three years later, Spotify wants nothing to do with the former first couple.

As the Obamas' contract with Spotify comes to an end and the couple solicits bids for a new deal, Spotify is not looking to renew the partnership, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. The company reportedly felt it got the raw end of the big money deal, as the Obamas were less than motivated to appear in person on the platform's podcasts.

"Spotify wanted more shows featuring two of the most famous people in the world," Bloomberg reported, while the Obamas' production company preferred to "provide a platform for a range of voices."

Friction between the two parties had been visible for months. Vanity Fair reported in February that "the Obamas are more interested in lifting young new voices than carrying shows themselves, and that this focus hasn't always aligned with Spotify's." The couple were also unhappy with Spotify's insistence on exclusively carrying their podcasts; they wanted their products broadcast on a number of platforms.

The Obamas will commit to appear on only eight podcast episodes each under a new deal, Bloomberg reported. In contrast, Spotify's most-listened-to podcast host, Joe Rogan, released 15 episodes in March alone.

Michelle Obama released only 10 episodes of her podcast since it launched in July 2020, and the last episode came out more than a year ago. Barack Obama's podcast series, a collection of conversations with Bruce Springsteen, contained just eight episodes.

The news of Spotify cutting ties with the Obamas comes after Netflix's stock plunged 37 percent just days after the release of a nature documentary hosted by Barack Obama.