Spotify Calls out the Sussexes for not upholding their business deal expectations
Back in June, the world was taken by surprise when Spotify, Prince Harry, and Meghan Markle announced their decision to part ways on the exclusive deal worth $20 million. While the contract and podcast have been set aside, the drama and rumors surrounding Archewell Audio, the couple’s podcast venture, continue to stir up controversy.
In late 2020, Spotify announced its exclusive deal with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. With their Archewell Audio, the couple aimed to host podcasts that focused on uplifting voices through shared experiences, universal values, and powerful narratives. During the Spotify deal, the couple released two podcasts. One was a holiday special and the other was called Archetypes. Meghan Markle’s Spotifypodcast Archetypes explored stereotypes against women, featuring guests like Paris Hilton, Mindy Kaling, and Mariah Carey. Nevertheless, despite the initial excitement, Archewell Audio started looking for a new home for its audio projects, just under three years after the announcement.
Behind the scenes
Reports suggest that Spotify’s leadership was frustrated with the amount of time that conceptualization and project completion took at Archewell Audio. The team initially struggled without a dedicated member for audio projects but later hired a head of audio. Although their podcast Archetypes topped the Spotify charts and considering a second season, the success was not without challenges. The team at Archewell had a few leadership position departures, including the head of communications, head of scripted content, head of marketing, and head of audio, among others.
Prince Harry’s ideas
On Prince Harry’s end, reports indicate that he faced difficulties in developing podcast ideas that materialized into actual shows. Prince Harry’s Spotify podcast ideas spanned from interviews with military veterans to discussing misinformation and his perspective on living in the US. He also explored potential celebrity co-hosts, like Hasan Minhaj, the comedian, and expressed interest in podcast themes like major societal conversations or fatherhood. However, some of his random ideas included interviewing guests like Donald Trump, Mark Zuckerberg, and Vladimir Putin about their childhood traumas.
Industry leaders have not been supportive of the couple’s podcasting venture. UTA CEO Jeremy Zimmer referred to Markle as untalented during a festival, while Bill Simmons, The Ringer CEO and Spotify executive, called the famous couple “grifters” on his own podcast, and criticized their involvement with the music and podcast streaming platform.
While the couple hasn’t officially responded, there are reports that they privately blamed the content production failure at Spotify and Netflix on bad luck. They allegedly attributed their misfortune to factors like the pandemic, difficult economic times, Prince Philip’s declining health, and the time, along with the death of the Queen.
Despite the split with Spotify, the couple still has an ongoing deal with Netflix. However, they are reportedly in deep waters, and there were reports that they will only receive the rest of their payment if they are able to produce another hit. With scripted content not being an option for the time being because of the current writers’ strike, the couple may be exploring reality show pitches as their next move.