Barack and Michelle Obama have struck a multiyear deal with Amazon to create podcasts and shows for its storytelling platform, Audible. The couple is pictured together in January
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Barack and Michelle Obama have struck a $20million multiyear deal with Amazon to create podcasts and shows for its storytelling platform, Audible.

The former first couple recently cut ties with Spotify after reportedly clashing with the streaming giant over exclusivity and how much they were expected to appear in episodes. 

Audible will hold exclusive first-look rights to all podcasts created by the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground. But, unlike with Spotify, the content will be syndicated across multiple podcasting platforms.

The Obamas signed their Spotify deal in 2019 for an undisclosed sum but it is likely to be in the realm of $30million, the amount scored by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle that same year.

Audible has not disclosed how much their new partnership with the Obamas is going to cost. However, insiders revealed in April that Higher Ground had been fielding offers worth ‘tens of millions of dollars’. 

Barack and Michelle Obama have struck a multiyear deal with Amazon to create podcasts and shows for its storytelling platform, Audible. The couple is pictured together in January

Barack and Michelle Obama have struck a multiyear deal with Amazon to create podcasts and shows for its storytelling platform, Audible. The couple is pictured together in January

Audible will hold exclusive first-look rights to all podcasts created by the Obamas' production company, Higher Ground

Audible will hold exclusive first-look rights to all podcasts created by the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground

Higher Ground and Audible reached a multiyear and multi-project deal on Tuesday, the companies confirmed.

The companies did not provide any details on what projects would be forthcoming but said the shows Higher Ground creates for Audible ‘will reflect the companies’ shared mission to tell meaningful and entertaining stories that elevate diverse voices and experiences.’

Audible’s original content is typically only made available to subscribers, however the Obamas’ deal allows for their content to be distributed on a wide variety of platforms. 

It is unclear if Spotify, which previously held exclusive rights to Higher Ground content, will syndicate the Obamas’ Audible-owned content. 

The Obamas recently cut ties with Spotify after reportedly clashing with the streaming giant over exclusivity and how much they were expected to appear in episodes

The Obamas recently cut ties with Spotify after reportedly clashing with the streaming giant over exclusivity and how much they were expected to appear in episodes

Both the Obamas and Audible have applauded the deal, saying they look forward to using the storytelling platform to inspire others. 

‘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,’ Barack said in a statement. ‘I’m looking forward to partnering with them to tell stories that not only entertain but also inspire.’

Michelle echoed her husband’s sentiment, stating: ‘We are so proud of the stories we have been able to tell at Higher Ground, and there’s no one we’d rather write our next chapter with than Audible. 

‘Together, we will keep striving to tell compelling, provocative, and soulful stories — while doing everything we can to make sure they reach the folks who need to hear them.’

Audible executives noted they are ‘thrilled’ to welcome the Obamas to the platform and look forward to helping the couple ‘provide hope and uplifting guidance’ to their audience. 

‘We have long recognized President and Mrs. Obama’s historic capacity to captivate,’ Audible Founder and Executive Chairman Don Katz said. 

‘We are thrilled to welcome two of the most profound voices of moral and intellectual leadership of our times into the Audible fold, and to be able to elevate President and Mrs. Obama’s singular ability to provide hope and uplifting guidance—needed now more than ever—through their voices.’ 

‘For so long we have been inspired by the Obamas. Their passion, curatorial style and ingenuity is reflected in the content they have created across all mediums, as well as the talented team they have assembled at Higher Ground. We are beyond thrilled to collaborate on audio-first original content that highlights their profoundly unique content and vision,’ added Zola Mashariki, head of Audible Studios.

The Obamas developed and sired five shows during their three-year deal with Spotify, including The Michelle Obama Podcast which is the platform's most listened to Spotify Original to date

The Obamas developed and sired five shows during their three-year deal with Spotify, including The Michelle Obama Podcast which is the platform’s most listened to Spotify Original to date

Higher Ground also developed Renegades: Born in the USA which featured conversations between Barack and singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen

Higher Ground also developed Renegades: Born in the USA which featured conversations between Barack and singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen

The Obamas’ deal with Spotify runs through October 2022. The streaming service claims it opted not to renew its deal with the couple.

However, Bloomberg sources revealed in April couple had clashed repeatedly with Spotify on two issues – giving the giant exclusive rights to their content, produced by Higher Ground, and how much they had to appear in the episodes.

Spotify pays podcast hosts like Joe Rogan and Alexandra Cooper, of Call Her Daddy, exorbitant salaries in exchange for having exclusive rights to air their content. 

Rogan’s deal is said to be more than $200 million. Cooper meanwhile has a three-year deal worth $60 million, according to Variety. 

Sources familiar with Obamas’ Spotify deal, said the couple felt exclusivity limited their audience. Instead, they wanted to be able to sell the content to multiple bidders. Spotify would eventually gain access to it. 

Spotify also wanted the couple to appear predominantly in all of the episodes, whereas they wanted to use the platform to elevate other, less famous voices. 

Podcasts produced by Higher Ground for Spotify will continue to launch on the platform through autumn.

‘We are incredibly proud of our partnership with Higher Ground and while we declined to extend our deal we are excited about the series we made together and those still to come in the months ahead,’ a Spotify spokesperson told Variety. 

Sources familiar with the Obamas' Spotify deal, said the couple felt exclusivity limited their audience. Instead, they wanted to be able to sell the content to multiple bidders. Spotify would eventually gain access to it. The couple are pictured in an undated photo with their daughters who are now adults

Sources familiar with the Obamas’ Spotify deal, said the couple felt exclusivity limited their audience. Instead, they wanted to be able to sell the content to multiple bidders. Spotify would eventually gain access to it. The couple are pictured in an undated photo with their daughters who are now adults

Higher Ground also has an exclusive film and TV production deal with Netflix. The company produced the docuseries Our Great National Parks which showcases the planet's greatest national parks and wild spaces

Higher Ground also has an exclusive film and TV production deal with Netflix. The company produced the docuseries Our Great National Parks which showcases the planet’s greatest national parks and wild spaces

The Obamas developed and sired five shows during their three-year deal with Spotify, including The Michelle Obama Podcast which is the platform’s most listened to Spotify Original to date. 

The production company also developed Renegades: Born in the USA which featured conversations between Barack and singer-songwriter Bruce Springsteen.

These shows will remain on the Spotify platform but are also reportedly available on all other podcast platforms, including Audible.

Higher Ground also has an exclusive film and TV production deal with Netflix. The company’s first film release, American Factory, won an Oscar in 2019.

The production company has also released Becoming, which is a documentary film following Michelle’s life, and Fatherhood starring Kevin hart.

It also produced the docuseries Our Great National Parks which showcases the planet’s greatest national parks and wild spaces. 

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