Spotify and the production company of Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, have announced they are ending a multiyear podcasting deal which saw the creation of Meghan’s 12-episode podcast “Archetypes” last year.
“Archetypes” launched last August, with tennis star Serena Williams, singer Mariah Carey and actress Mindy Kaling among the guests.
“Spotify and Archewell Audio have mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together,” Spotify said in an emailed statement Friday, without providing any further details.
The deal between Spotify and Prince Harry and Meghan’s production company, Archewell Audio, was announced in late 2020 as a multiyear, exclusive partnership that would see Harry and Meghan hosting and producing “podcasts that build community through shared experiences and values.” It began with a 2020 holiday special, and a first complete series was expected in 2021, Spotify said at the time.
The couple’s first podcast series, “Archetypes,” which ended up launching in August 2022, was described as “a podcast where we investigate, dissect, and subvert the labels that try to hold women back.”
The first episode topped Spotify’s ratings lists, although the podcast didn’t appear among the platform’s list of its top podcasts of 2022. While the podcast series generated significant press coverage, some commentators argued that the media was more interested in revelations about Harry and Meghan’s life while they were working royals, than the interviews with the podcast’s high-profile guests.
The reason behind the decision to end the partnership remains unclear, but it comes weeks after Spotify announced job cuts of 200 people, or 2 percent of its workforce, as the company outlined its strategy for a “strategic realignment” of its work and global podcasts.
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the deal ending, cited people familiar with the matter as saying the couple had failed to meet “the productivity benchmarks required to receive the full payout from the deal,” which it said was worth roughly $20 million.
A representative for WME, the talent agency that represents Markle, told the Wall Street Journal: “The team behind Archetypes remain proud of the podcast they created at Spotify. Meghan is continuing to develop more content for the Archetypes audience on another platform.”
Since stepping back from the royal family in 2020, the couple have signed a number of lucrative deals, including a six-hour documentary series they produced for Netflix, entitled “Harry and Meghan,” and Harry’s controversial memoir “Spare,” which was released in January. Netflix described “Harry and Meghan” as its most-viewed documentary debut when it launched, while “Spare” became an instant bestseller.
Other top names have also signed — and later ended — exclusive deals with Spotify. Former president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama announced a deal with Spotify in 2019, but ended their exclusive podcast deal in April 2022. Bloomberg reported that the couple were leaving the platform as they hoped to make their content available on more than one platform.