Former United States President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have signed a deal to produce a series of podcasts for music streaming platform Spotify.
The couple's production company, Higher Ground, announced on Thursday a multi-year partnership with the music giant.
Under the deal, they will "develop, produce, and lend their voices" to podcasts distributed worldwide. The deal is with Higher Ground Audio, a new division of the Higher Ground production company.
A joint statement announcing the latest venture said the move into podcasts would allow them to "expand the conversation".
“We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation. 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 former President said in a statement via Spotify.
The statement did not detail specific topics the podcasts would cover or when they would become available.
“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. 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.” Michelle Obama said.
The platform is the world's largest music streaming service and has more than 217 million monthly active users. It is currently investing heavily in podcasting as it seeks to move beyond music.
Several major players in the industry are seeking to shift podcast production away from the current model, where the audio broadcasts are free and producers earn revenue from advertising, towards a platform where users pay for content.
The announcement comes just a few months after Spotify acquired podcast producer Gimlet and podcast tool-maker Anchor, continuing the Swedish streaming platform’s steps toward differentiating itself through its original content.
The Obamas announced Higher Ground Productions in the spring of 2018, on the back of a multi-year deal with Netflix to produce what has been promised to be a number of wide-ranging and somewhat vague scripted and unscripted features and series. So far, those projects have included two book adaptations (Michael Lewis’s The Fifth Risk and Dwight W. Blight’s Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom), a Downton Abbey-like prestige drama from Callie Khouri titled Bloom, and a scripted anthology series based on New York Times obituaries called Overlooked.
Speaking of the partnership with the Obamas, the company said it was a "privilege" to be working with "two of the world's most important voices".