Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have signed a multiyear deal to produce podcasts exclusively for Spotify, through their media company Higher Ground Productions. The announcement is light on details, but heavy on aphorisms, saying the move continues the Obamas’ mission to “create compelling content that entertains and inspires viewers.”
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 a 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.
Higher Ground also nabbed the rights to the documentary American Factory at this year’s Sundance, where it earned the documentary directing award. There’s no release date yet, but it’s likely to hit Netflix later this year, and will be the first thing from Higher Ground you can watch.
There are still no details on specific podcast projects from Higher Ground, but in a statement 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.”
In the absence of any meaningful details, just prepare for the Obamas to open your minds and your hearts, as long as you have a Spotify account.