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End of the Royal Podcast Affair: Spotify Severs Ties with Archewell

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In a surprising turn of events, Spotify and Archewell Audio, the podcast company owned by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, have decided to discontinue their multi-year partnership. The decision is reportedly mutual, according to a statement released by both parties. As a consequence, Meghan Markle’s podcast, which only managed to produce a mere twelve episodes under a whopping $20mn contract, won’t be seeing a renewal. The Wall Street Journal indicates that the full payment for the deal might not be realized due to unmet productivity stipulations.

Heated Exchange From Spotify Executive

Bill Simmons, a senior executive at Spotify and a well-known podcaster, didn’t hold back his feelings towards the royal couple in the wake of the fractured deal. On his podcast, he referred to the duo as “f**king grifters.” Simmons’ disappointment is palpable as he shared his wish to have been involved in the negotiation of Archewell’s departure from Spotify. He also touched on a particular Zoom meeting with Prince Harry, which he referred to as one of his best stories. Earlier in January 2023, Simmons had criticized Prince Harry during an episode of his podcast, questioning his purpose on the platform. He insinuated that the royal’s only claim to relevance was his birth into the royal family, his subsequent departure from it, and his ventures into documentaries and podcasts that seem to go unnoticed unless he talks about the royal family.

Controversy Surrounding the “Archetypes” Podcast

“Archetypes,” the sole series produced by Archewell Audio, aimed to deconstruct and challenge the labels that constrain women, featuring interviews by Meghan Markle with celebrity guests such as Serena Williams, Mariah Carey, Paris Hilton, and Trevor Noah. However, Podnews alleges that Markle did not conduct all the interviews herself. Some of these were supposedly done by her staff, and the questions she posed were edited into the conversation afterward. Following this revelation, The Post reached out to representatives for Markle and Archewell Audio for comments, but there has been no response so far.

The Financial Implications

Will Page, the former chief economist at Spotify, suggests that Harry and Meghan’s earnings from Spotify surpass the profits of the most streamed song ever, “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd. Despite the criticism and controversy, a spokesperson for Archewell Productions told the Wall Street Journal that Meghan plans to continue creating content for the “Archetypes” audience on a different platform. This decision comes just a fortnight after Spotify announced a “strategic realignment,” which included the slashing of 200 jobs in its podcast unit, about 2% of its global workforce. It remains to be seen how the departure of Archewell Audio will affect Spotify’s strategic future.

Simmons’s Success at Spotify

While Archewell Audio’s journey with Spotify comes to a close, Bill Simmons continues to thrive on the platform. In 2020, Spotify acquired Simmons’ sports and culture website “The Ringer” along with its suite of over 30 podcasts for a deal worth more than $200 million, according to a Forbes report. Since then, Simmons has ascended to the role of head of podcast innovation and monetization at Spotify, where he hosts multiple podcasts, including “The Rewatchables”. His success story contrasts starkly with that of the royal couple’s venture, amplifying the gap in terms of content creation and audience reception.

Mystery Surrounding the “Archetypes” Interviews

Speculation about Meghan Markle’s approach to her interviews in the “Archetypes” podcast began when writer Allison Yarrow shared her experience on Instagram. She was quoted saying that she was excited to be included in the series. Her post pictured her in front of the audio production house Gimlet Media, expressing gratitude towards an “Archetypes” producer for being an excellent interviewer. Yarrow, an author of “90s Bitch: Media, Culture, and the Failed Promise of Gender Equality,” appeared on an episode of the podcast titled “To ‘B’ or Not To ‘B,'”, where she discussed how the term “difficult” is often used as a derogatory code for women. Her comments and explanations were edited and intertwined with the Duchess of Sussex’s remarks in the podcast audio, as reported by the Daily Mail in November. This led to further questions about whether Meghan directly interacted with any or all of the experts featured on her show.

What Lies Ahead

The royal couple’s venture into the podcasting world with Spotify may have ended, but it appears that their journey with “Archetypes” is not over. Even amidst the controversy and criticism, there is a promise of more content to come, albeit on a different platform. The future of Archewell Audio and the impact of its separation from Spotify on the global podcasting landscape will be an intriguing story to follow. As the world of podcasting continues to evolve with more advanced tools, deeper analytics, and wider audiences, one can only wait to see what the next chapter will bring for all parties involved.

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