Spotify Teams Up With Barack and Michelle Obama to Launch Podcasts

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Barack Obama and Michelle Obama speak onstage at TNT Christmas in Washington 2014 at the National Building Museum on Dec. 14, 2014 in Washington, DC.  

Spotify has agreed to an exclusive multi-year partnership with President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, to produce podcasts on the platform, the company announced today. The Obamas will develop, produce and appear on select podcasts as part of the agreement. Higher Ground Audio has been formed by the production company to manage the upcoming podcasts.

This is the latest move by Spotify to beef up its podcast offerings, after spending nearly $340 million to acquire Gimlet Media -- the maker of popular podcasts like Reply All -- and Anchor, a company which aims to make podcast creation easier, earlier this year. The company has said it is willing to spend up to $500 million this year to improve its podcast offerings. The podcast ad market is still nascent, pulling in an estimated $479 million in 2018, but that number is expected to more than double by 2021, with more than $1 billion in revenue projected by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and PwC.

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama launched Higher Ground productions in 2018 and struck a deal with Netflix to produce content that inspires viewers. The company has announced its initial lineup of content for Netflix, which includes adaptations of Michael Lewis’ book The Fifth Risk and author David W. Blight's Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, which won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History.

“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.”

Spotify and the Obamas haven’t announced when the first podcasts from the deal will be released, or what type of content they will look to develop.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to amplify voices that are too often ignored or silenced altogether, and through Spotify, we can share those stories with the world,” Michelle Obama said. “Our hope is that through compelling, inspirational storytelling, Higher Ground Audio will not only produce engaging podcasts, but help people connect emotionally and open up their minds -- and their hearts.