Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s $20 million, multi-year deal to produce podcasts with the streaming platform came to an end after they produced just 12 episodes, according to Spotify’s head of podcast innovation and monetisation, who called them “grifters.”
Bill Simmons, who founded the Ringer podcast network and later sold it to Spotify for $196 million in 2020, criticized Harry and Meghan on his own podcast after learning that the Sussexes’ audio production company, Archewell, had severed ties with Spotify. Simmons also gained a leadership position at Spotify as part of the deal. In 2020, the couple agreed to a $20 million deal with Spotify.
Meghan hosted the Archetypes podcast, which included interviews with family, friends, and famous people like Serena Williams, Mariah Carey, and Trevor Noah. Only 12 episodes were produced, despite the fact that it topped the podcast charts for Spotify in several markets.
It was announced last week that Spotify and Archewell Audio had “mutually agreed to part ways” and that they were “proud of the series we made together.” The royal couple, who only produced one 12-episode series, did not meet the productivity benchmark required to receive the full headline payout from the agreement, according to sources close to Spotify, the Wall Street Journal reported.
I wished I had participated in the negotiations regarding Meghan and Harry’s departure from Spotify. On his podcast, The Bill Simmons podcast, Simmons stated, “That’s the podcast we should have launched with them. “I have to get wasted one night and tell Harry about the Zoom I had with him in an effort to aid him in coming up with a podcast idea. One of my best stories is this one. Screw them. The thieves.
Archewell has been contacted by The Guardian for comment.
In the past, Simmons expressed his annoyance at having to “share” Spotify with Prince Harry.
The following was said by him in a January 2022 episode of his podcast: “You live in freaking Montecito and you just sell documentaries and podcasts and nobody cares what you have to say about anything unless you talk about the royal family and you just complain about them.”
Following its success with Joe Rogan, Spotify expanded into podcasting with its agreements with Simmons and the Duke and Duchess. The Stockholm-based streaming company is currently under pressure from investors to boost its performance after posting a net loss of €430 million (£367 million) in the previous fiscal year.
Daniel Ek, the chief executive of Spotify, acknowledged earlier this year that the company had made some errors with the $1 billion it had invested in attempting to become a major player in the podcasting industry.
He said to financial analysts during a conference call, “You’re right in calling out the overpaying and overinvesting.
He continued, “We’re going to be very careful in how we invest in future content deals. We won’t renew any contracts that aren’t performing, of course.
“And the ones that are performing, we will obviously look at those on a case-by-case basis with regard to the relative value.”
Earlier this month, Spotify made a 200 job cut announcement for its podcasting division.