Under the partnership, the former First couple "will develop, produce, and lend their voices to select podcasts, connecting them to listeners around the world on wide-ranging topics."
Barack and Michelle Obama are the newest entrants into the fast-growing podcast industry. Higher Ground Audio, a section of the Obamas' production company, Higher Ground, just signed a deal with audio service Spotify to produce podcasts exclusive to the platform. "Under the Higher Ground partnership, President and Mrs. Obama will develop, produce, and lend their voices to select podcasts, connecting them to listeners around the world on wide-ranging topics," says a statement released by Spotify. "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."
While the former First couple's primary role will lie in the production and development phases, you can also expect to hear them on some of the podcasts. “We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation,” President Obama said in a statement about the new venture. “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.”
I’m looking forward to hearing great content!— The Universe is within (@jaymooniechild) June 7, 2019
Spotify currently has more than 217 million monthly active users and will be distributing High Ground Audio's podcasts to its user base worldwide. The streaming service launched as a music-focused platform over a decade ago but has steadily been moving into the podcast space - adding podcast-listening abilities around two years ago. They also acquired several podcasting companies earlier this year, including Gimlet Media. “President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are two of the world’s most important voices and it is a privilege to be working with them to identify and share stories that will inspire our global audience, which looks to Spotify for unique, breakthrough content,” said Spotify Chief Content Officer, Dawn Ostroff.
“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 will help people connect emotionally and open up their minds—and their hearts.” The Obamas founded Higher Ground last year to produce series and features for streaming giant Netflix. They also recently announced the upcoming projects they're working on for Netflix, which span a wide range of topics and genres. These include Crip Camp - a documentary currently in production about a 1970s summer camp that influenced the disability rights movement, Bloom - a drama series about women and people of color facing discrimination while working in the post-WWII New York fashion world, and American Factory - a documentary that Netflix acquired at the Sundance Film Festival this year.
What a nice change. Calm, soothing intelligence versus third grade rambling. I look forward to it.— White Falcon (@White13Falcon) June 7, 2019
Similar to Higher Ground's deal with Netflix, the Spotify contract was described as a multi-year agreement. The first podcasts from Higher Ground Audio are likely to debut in 2020 at the earliest. The specifics of the content will be announced by Higher Ground and Spotify at a later date.