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Obamas Move Audio Deal to Amazon After Spotify Friction

By Ashley Carman

 The Obamas and their production company Higher Ground have signed a deal with Inc.’s Audible to make a slate of original audio programming, the companies announced Tuesday, bringing an end to the Obamas’ three-year relationship with Spotify.

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle close the Obama Foundation Summit together on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology on October 29, 2019 in Chicago.

The terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, including whether the deal gives Higher Ground the flexibility to release shows on many audio services at the same time. Spotify paid for exclusive rights to shows, though it later distributed them on rival services.

“At Higher Ground, we have always sought to lift up voices that deserve to be heard — and Audible is invested in realizing that vision alongside us,” former president Barack Obama said in a press release. “I’m looking forward to partnering with them to tell stories that not only entertain but also inspire.”

The famous family signed its first podcast deal with Spotify Technology SA in 2019 and released a variety of shows, including “The Michelle Obama Podcast” and “Renegades: Born in the USA,” a multi-hour conversation between Barack and musician Bruce Springsteen. The partnership turned south over the years, however, after both companies disagreed on strategy. Higher Ground staff wanted their slate to highlight voices outside the Obamas’, and though the production company pitched dozens of shows, Spotify only produced a handful. Spotify eventually declined to renew their deal, narrowing potential partners for Higher Ground down to Audible and iHeartMedia Inc., as Bloomberg reported in April.

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