Obamas to create exclusive podcasts for Spotify

Obamas
SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES/TNS
Former first Lady Michelle and former president Barack Obama are introduced at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit on Oct. 31, 2017 in Chicago.

BY RYAN FAUGHNDER AND WENDY LEE
LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS

Barack and Michelle Obama have inked a deal to make podcasts for streaming music giant Spotify, in the latest expansion and the former president and first lady’s nascent media business.

Higher Ground, the Obamas’ production company, said Thursday that it has forged a partnership to create podcasts exclusively for Stockholm-based Spotify’s global platform.

Publicly traded Spotify is the world’s largest streaming music company, with 100 million paying subscribers and more than 217 million monthly active users.

Financial terms of the Obamas’ deal were not disclosed.

The companies did not announce any titles for new podcasts or say how much content Higher Ground would produce for Spotify. Under the partnership, Barack and Michelle Obama will develop, produce and lend their voices to podcasts, the companies said.

“We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation,” President Obama said in a statement. “It helps us build connections with each other and open ourselves up to new ideas. We’re excited about Higher Ground Audio because podcasts offer an extraordinary opportunity to foster productive dialogue, make people smile and make people think, and, hopefully, bring us all a little closer together.”

OHER DEALS

The Spotify deal comes a year after Higher Ground scored a multiyear deal to make movies, TV series and other content for Netflix Inc. The Obamas founded Higher Ground in 2018.

Spotify has been investing deeply in the podcast space, with plans to spend as much as $500 million on podcast-related acquisitions this year.

Already, the audio streaming firm had deals to buy podcast firms Parcast, Gimlet Media and Anchor FM.

Spotify said in April that it had more than 250,000 podcasts available on its platform and launched 15 original or exclusive podcasts in its first quarter.

It can be challenging to find good podcasts in a sea of content, and companies like Spotify are rushing to build up their libraries of exclusives to become like the Netflix for podcasts. Spotify has said podcast listeners spend twice as much time on the platform.

Chief Executive Daniel Ek said he believed that eventually more than 20% of time users spent on Spotify would be on non-music content.

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