The Obamas’ Production Company Is Partnering With Spotify to Make Podcasts

Higher Ground previously struck a deal with Neflix

Michelle and Barack Obama will appear on certain podcasts as part of their Spotify deal. Getty Images, Spotify, Higher Ground
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Two years ago, Barack Obama joked that he was “still waiting for my job at Spotify” as he considered his post-presidential career. Now, he has one.
Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, is partnering with Spotify to develop and produce original podcasts for the streaming platform, Spotify said Thursday.
Higher Ground Audio, an offshoot of Higher Ground Productions that will focus exclusively on podcasts, has signed a multiyear deal to develop and produce “a diverse slate” of original podcast programs on “wide-ranging topics,” Spotify said.
More details on the type of programming that will be developed has yet to be announced. The former president and former first lady will appear on certain podcasts as part of the deal, and a person familiar with the deal said programming will likely become available on Spotify sometime in 2020.
“We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation,” Barack Obama said in a statement about the partnership. “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 deal is another major foray into media for the Obamas, who debuted Higher Ground in 2018 with a flashy multiyear partnership with Netflix to develop feature films and documentaries, including feature-length documentaries and scripted and unscripted documentary series. In April, the production company said it had seven projects in the works, including a feature film about abolitionist Frederick Douglass; a family series for preschool-aged children about healthy eating; and a period drama series set in New York after World War II.
The partnership is also a major win for Spotify, which has made strides in the podcasting space to attract new users. In February, the streaming service acquired two podcasting companies, Gimlet Media and Anchor, signaling a serious effort to broaden both its original programming slate and its ability to produce, distribute and monetize podcasts.
Earlier this year, Spotify told shareholders that it was prepared to spend between $400 million and $500 million on podcast-related acquisitions in 2019.


@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.