Former first Lady Michelle and former president Barack Obama, seen here at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit on Oct. 31, 2017 in Chicago, will lend their voices to a new podcast. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Former first Lady Michelle and former president Barack Obama, seen here at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit on Oct. 31, 2017 in Chicago, will lend their voices to a new podcast. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Barack and Michelle Obama to create podcasts for Spotify

The former president and first lady will produce and lend their voices to the Higher Ground podcast.

  • Sunday, June 9, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

By Ryan Faughnder and Wendy Lee / Los Angeles Times

Barack and Michelle Obama have inked a deal to make podcasts for streaming music giant Spotify, in the latest expansion of 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,” Barack 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.”

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.

Talk to us

More in Life

Keep masks on the kitchen counter next to your phone so you remember to grab one when you leave the house. (Jennifer Bardsley)
Household strategies to manage summer’s hottest new accessory

This mom lays out her plan to keep clean masks available to all four family members at all times.

Most of our weed issues are self-inflicted because of poor timing — aka neglect. It’s the No. 1 failure of gardeners. (Getty Images)
How to keep pesky weeds away for a much healthier garden

You’ll continue to have weed problems if you don’t plant new plants or cover the ground with mulch.

Lady A lawsuit is ‘white privilege,’ Seattle singer says

The country trio Lady A has filed a lawsuit against blues singer Anita White, who performs using the same name.

Rick Steves’ Europe: York Minster: England’s most amazing church

A smart decision by York’s leaders in Victorian times preserved the town’s historic charm.

With new name and album, The Chicks’ voices ring loud again

“Gaslighter” is the storied and controversial trio’s first new music in 14 years.

With COVID-19, this is a once-in-a-century kind of summer

Though we’re in a pandemic, we can still find imaginative and resourceful ways to enjoy summertime.

Author events and poetry readings around Snohomish County

Events listed here are contingent on whether each jurisdiction is approved to… Continue reading

The Sauk River rushes by near a popular boat launch area close to White Chuck Mountain off the Mountain Loop Highway, just outside of Darrington. (Daniella Beccaria / Herald file)
Outdoors classes and activities around Snohomish County

Some of the events listed here are contingent on whether each jurisdiction… Continue reading

Indulge in luxury lodgings — and you don’t have to drive far

Take a pandemic staycation in style at these 3 high-end hotels in Snohomish County.

Most Read