Barack and Michelle Obama ‘preparing to buy new podcast partner’ amid outcry over Joe Rogan
The Obamas are said to be looking for a new podcasting partner because they are frustrated with the slow development of Spotify, where they are more interested in introducing new voices than hosting shows themselves.
Former President Barack Obama, 60, and former first lady Michelle, 58, are considering new deals with other companies, three podcast industry sources told Insider.
The duo’s Higher Ground Audio company signed a three-year deal with Spotify in June 2019, but sources say it can be difficult to get a green-lit show on the Swedish music streamer.
Additionally, the Obamas are more interested in bringing out “young new voices” rather than hosting shows themselves, according to Vanity Fair, which first reported rumors of the couple’s dissatisfaction.
The news comes as Spotify faces a backlash over Joe Rogan, the platform’s most popular podcaster, over what some are calling his COVID-19 misinformation trafficking.
In July 2020, the Michelle Obama podcast debuted with the former president as its first guest. Above, the former First Lady interviews her brother Craig Robinson
Barack Obama interviews Bruce Springsteen on the former president’s eight-part podcast, Renegades: Born in the USA
The Obamas are said to be looking for a new podcasting partner because they’re frustrated with Spotify’s slow development
The Obamas signed an agreement to “develop, produce and lend their voices” to select podcasts to feature on the music streaming service in June 2019.
As part of the deal, Obama hosted the eight-episode Renegades: Born in the USA podcast alongside Bruce Springsteen. It premiered on April 5, 2021.
In July 2020, the Michelle Obama podcast debuted with the former president as its first guest. The last episode was released on September 16 this year.
Other podcasts produced by the Obamas include Tell Them, I Am, which features stories from Muslim voices, and The Big Hit Show, which premiered in January.
The Big Hit Show is hosted by journalist Alex Pappademas. Its first season focuses on the impact of the Twilight book and film series.
A source told Insider it’s possible the Obamas will renew their Spotify contract, though they now face stiffer competition than before as streaming services from Amazon and Apple have increased their investments in podcasts.
Another source said Higher Ground’s presentations don’t always align with Spotify’s focus on popular, high-profile shows.
News of Obama’s displeasure comes as Spotify faces backlash for Joe Rogan’s peddling of alleged misinformation about his show
Singer-songwriters Neil Young (left) and Joni Mitchell have removed their music from the streaming service in protest at Joe Rogan’s spreading of what they consider to be COVID ‘misinformation’
Late last month, folksinger Neil Young told Spotify in an open letter that he wanted his music removed from the streaming service because Joe Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, “spreads false vaccine information – potentially causing the death of those who believe the misinformation.” be propagated by them.
Spotify complied and began pulling the singer-songwriter’s catalog from the service on Wednesday. Days later, Joni Mitchell also demanded that her music be removed.
The Joe Rogan Experience is Spotify’s highest rated show, with each episode attracting over 10 million listeners.
The streaming service struck a deal estimated to be worth more than $100 million in late 2020 for the exclusive rights to host the former Fear Factor host’s podcast. Obama’s deal would have been worth a similar amount.
Meanwhile, Taylor Swift fans are calling on the pop star, 32, to remove her music from the service in solidarity with Young and Mitchell.
“Fact is Taylor Swift could probably end Joe Rogan with a tweet on Spotify,” one fan tweeted Sunday at over 6,700 likes.
Rogan addressed the controversy in an Instagram video on Jan. 31.
“It’s a strange responsibility to have so many viewers and listeners. It’s nothing I prepared for. I’ll do my best to balance things out.
“I’m just a person who sits and talks to people and has conversations with them. What interests me is telling the truth and finding out what the truth is.
‘I’m really sorry that [Neil Young and Joni Mitchell] feel that way. I certainly don’t want that,” he said.
Rogan spoke hours after Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, who have their own deal with the outlet, were in touch with Spotify to express concerns that the outlet might be streaming ” misinformation related to the pandemic”.
Spotify boss Daniel Ek has pushed back against employees demanding Joe Rogan’s ousting, saying the controversial podcaster is vital to the future of the platform and that it’s not for the company to “dictate.” the speech” of his show.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek told employees the company ‘wouldn’t be where it is today’ if it hadn’t switched to podcasts like the one hosted by Joe Rogan
Fans are calling on Taylor Swift to drop her music from the Swedish streaming giant
“There are a lot of things that Joe Rogan says I strongly disagree with and find very offensive,” Chief Executive Daniel Ek said Wednesday during a company town hall, according to a transcript released by The Rod.
But “if we even want a chance to realize our audacious ambitions, that will mean having content on Spotify that many of us may not be proud to be associated with.”
“Nothing is right, but there will be opinions, ideas and beliefs that we strongly disagree with and that will even make us angry or sad,” he added.
Spotify has found itself caught between its $100 million flagship talent and a popular backlash against COVID-19 misinformation on its shows.