Spotify is betting big on Michelle Obama's new podcast

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Without the help of a Patreon page, Michelle Obama’s preparing to launch her own podcast later this month. Simply called The Michelle Obama Podcast, her show will be exclusively available to premium and free Spotify users starting on July 29. This is just the latest extension of Michelle and Barack Obama’s Higher Ground production company, which inked a deal with Spotify and released the Academy Award-winning American Factory on Netflix last year.

In a trailer for the podcast, Obama runs through her mission for the show’s first season, which will serve as a place to unpack heavy topics, like the “challenges of being a parent or spouse” with her family, friends, and colleagues. “We’ll be discussing the relationships that make us who we are,” she says in the teaser. It stands to be a place where she and a wide-ranging lineup of guests can calmly hash out the crises of the day. “Whether that's a global pandemic or a nationwide reckoning with race. My hope is that this podcast can be a place for us to sort through the questions that we’re all trying to answer,” she says.

So far, the guests tapped to appear include Obama’s mother, brother, former Obama White House aide Valerie Jarrett, The Office’s Craig Robinson, Conan O’Brien, and more. Right-wing pundits and oddsmakers alike have strangely pegged Obama as the fourth or fifth most likely person to hop on the Joe Biden ticket, when it seems so clear that she’d rather be doing, well...just about anything else for the time being.

The Michelle Obama Podcast marks yet another incredibly high-profile podcast get for Spotify, after the streaming giant signed huge deals with Joe Rogan, Kim Kardashian-West, and The Ringer earlier this year. While a crossover episode between the four discussing, I don’t know, chemtrails and the 2005 Celtics draft, would certainly be amusing, it’s highly unlikely that this leads to a sustainable endgame for anyone but the biggest podcasters.

The streamer’s commitment to high-profile podcasting seems to supplant giving creators a reasonable payout who aren’t already on payroll. At press time, Spotify doesn’t pay podcast royalties to podcasters who haven’t inked a deal with the company, and measly payouts per stream to musicians fighting for scraps. Much like how streaming royalties are only adequate for artists who draw in millions of plays, the game plan only seems to include a prominent few.