Barack and Michelle Obama make new podcast deal with Spotify

Their production company Higher Ground already has an existing deal to produce film and TV for Netflix

Published June 6, 2019 5:04PM (EDT)

Michelle and Barack Obama (Getty/Mark Wilson)
Michelle and Barack Obama (Getty/Mark Wilson)

This article originally appeared on IndieWire.

The post-presidency endeavors of Barack and Michelle Obama have found another massive entertainment tech partner: Spotify. On Thursday, the audio subscription service announced that it had finalized a deal with the Obamas’ Higher Ground production company for a new set of creative projects that would exist on the platform.

The announcement explained that the new deal will see the production company “develop, produce, and lend their voices to select podcasts, connecting them to listeners around the world on wide-ranging topics. The multi-year agreement will be with Higher Ground Audio, an expansion of the Higher Ground production company that will oversee the move into podcasts.”

Higher Ground was created last year as part of the Obamas’ deal with Netflix to produce film and TV content for that platform as well as “produce powerful stories to entertain, inform and inspire, and to lift up new, diverse voices in the entertainment industry.” At the end of April, the company revealed its initial slate of content, including a film adaptation of David W. Blight’s recent Pulitzer Prize winning biography “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom”; a scripted anthology based on the New York Times’ obituary column “Overlooked”; Sundance documentary acquisition “American Factory”; a docuseries based on Michael Lewis’ terrifying “The Fifth Risk”, and a children’s nutrition show aimed at preschool-aged audiences called “Listen to Your Vegetables & Eat Your Parents.”

Read more IndieWire: Barack & Michelle Obama's Production Company Reveals Initial Netflix Programming Slate

Thursday’s announcement did not include any specific programming details, but as with the Netflix deal, Higher Ground will be joining an already crowded content strategy for their new digital streaming partners. Spotify has grown its original podcast content efforts in recent years, partnering to release series from creators like Gimlet exclusively through the service.

Read more IndieWire: Barack Obama's Favorite Movies of 2018 List Is Here, and It's Pretty Damn Amazing

In addition to these deals that are more akin to acquisitions (as with Season 2 of “Crimetown”), Spotify has also created original podcast series, many of which center on musical subjects. “Stay Free: The Story of The Clash” debuted earlier this year, with narration courtesy of Public Enemy vet Chuck D.

Read more IndieWire: Thousands of MCU Fans Still Outraged Over Tony Stark's Fate, But Signing A Petition Is Not the Solution

At the moment, Spotify boasts over 210 million global users, including 100 million subscribers who pay a monthly rate to stream content without ads.

By Steve Greene

Steve Greene is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. Across his decade-long tenure at IndieWire, Steve was a member of both the film and TV staffs. During and after his time there, he also covered festivals up and down the West Coast, from Vancouver to Palm Springs. He has also served on juries for SeriesFest, ShortFest, Fine Cut, and the IDA Documentary Awards.

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