In a significant followup to its deal with Netflix, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, has partnered with Spotify to produce exclusive podcasts, some of which will feature the voices of both Obamas.
For Spotify, the arrangement is further proof of its intentions to increase its stake in the increasingly fertile ground of podcasts. It’s a milestone for Dawn Ostroff, the former TV network and Condé Nast Entertainment chief who became Spotify’s Chief Content Officer last June. Podcasting is booming, with $479 million in advertising revenue in 2018 projected to double to $1 billion by 2021, according to a recent study by PwC and the IAB.
Higher Ground is forming an audio division to steer the venture. The parent company was created in 2018 in order to produce, in the words of the official announcement, “powerful stories to entertain, inform and inspire, and to lift up new, diverse voices in the entertainment industry.” Spotify will help convey those stories to a global audience. The platform recently passed 100 million premium subscribers and 217 million monthly active users.
The multi-year partnership will see President and Mrs. Obama develop, produce, and lend their voices to select podcasts, across a range of topics.
“We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation,” President Obama said. “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.”
“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.”
“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,” Ostroff said. “Connecting people with original and thoughtful creators — especially those with the ability to highlight underrepresented and indispensable narratives — is at the core of our mission and we are thrilled that not only will the Obamas be producing content, but that they will be lending their voices to this effort.”
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