If you've been missing the inspirational words and moving speeches of Barack and Michelle Obama now that they have left Washington, I've got some great news for you: Soon enough, you can listen to them wherever you go — or at least wherever you have WiFi. That's right: The Obamas are making podcasts. Today, their newly created production studio Higher Ground announced a multiyear agreement with Spotify to produce exclusive podcasts for the streaming platform.
If you thought the Obamas were going to take it easy now that they no longer occupy the White House, you were dead wrong. While the former president Barack Obama has stayed busy the last two years teaching, traveling, giving speeches, and campaigning for Democrats, his wife and former First Lady Michelle Obama has been just as active writing, recording audiobook for, and going on tour to promote her bestselling, record-breaking memoir Becoming. Together, the Obamas have been expanding their professional portfolio outside of the world of academia and politics to include film and television; the couple signed a multi-year agreement to produce films and series for Netflix. Now, they're making the leap to podcasting with another multi-year agreement, this time with streaming giant Spotify.
There are few details yet about what kinds of projects the Obamas will be developing for Spotify, but according to the official press release, "President and Mrs. Obama will develop, produce, and lend their voices to select podcasts, connecting them to listeners around the world on wide-ranging topics."
“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 in a statement about the new partnership. “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.”
Spotify's partnership with the Obama's higher Ground production company is just the latest in a series of moves the company has made in order to establish themselves in the podcasting world. In addition to making their existing podcasts more accessible in their app, Spotify acquired three established podcast companies — Gimlet Media, Anchor, and Parcast — and hired seasoned TV executive Liz Gately as the new head of creative development for their podcast division.
“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,” Spotify Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff said of the new partnership. “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.”
While their new projects aren't exactly what the former president and first lady are used to, both of the Obamas have expressed excitement about wading into these new waters. “We’ve always believed in the value of entertaining, thought-provoking conversation,” President Obama said in a statement. “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.”
There is no release date yet as to when you can expect the Obama-produced podcasts in your Spotify stream, but hopefully, we can all hear their words of wisdom soon.