On Wednesday, July 29, Michelle Obama released the first full episode of her highly anticipated show, “The Michelle Obama Podcast”. Her first guest was the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, and can be found exclusively on Spotify.
The streaming giant has recently edged its way into the audio storytelling market, joining audio giants Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and Podbean. The deal between Spotify and the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground Productions, is for exclusive podcast content. Higher Ground was established by the Obamas’ in 2018 and since then has made deals with many companies including Netflix and Instagram. Higher Ground’s partnership with Spotify will allow the Obamas’ to “develop, produce, and lend their voices to select podcasts.” “The Michelle Obama Podcast” is the first podcast released as part of this exclusive deal with Spotify.
Not only is Spotify taking a risk with the exclusive podcast deal, but the music service is also testing out shareable quote cards. The feature hasn’t been fully implemented, with only a small number of random Spotify users having access to it thus far. While listening to the podcast, a few preselected quotes with colorful backgrounds will appear, making it much easier to share powerful moments of the episode.
The goal is clear: get listeners to engage with the podcast as much as possible and gain swaths of new listeners. In the last year, Spotify has spent millions of dollars on podcasts, including company acquisitions. The production value of “The Michelle Obama Podcast” can be an indicator of the lengths Spotify is willing to go for success, money being far from an inhibitor.
Everything about the show feels done with purpose. In a teaser clip, “Introducing The Michelle Obama Podcast”, Michelle reveals the intentions of the show — including a plan for multiple seasons.
The premise of the first season is simple — Michelle has conversations with her loved ones in an attempt to better understand how our relationships impact our identity. “My hope is that this podcast can be a place for us to explore big topics together,” Michelle said. “A place to sort through the questions that we’re all trying to answer, a place to open up and be a little vulnerable and have some fun along the way.”
The first full episode is a delight to listen to. “Black Truck” by singer-songwriter Mereba opens up the episode, a neo-soul tune about chasing your dreams. The episode grants audiences the chance to listen to the former POTUS and First Lady talk about the temperament of our current world. They delve deep into a discussion about how we can hold ourselves accountable to the communities we are a part of.
The conversation is surprisingly honest and transparent. One interesting topic the duo touched upon was the creation and sustainability of the Black community. White flight is defined as, “the phenomenon of white people moving out of urban areas, particularly those with significant minority populations.” It’s well understood how this migration leaves minority neighborhoods decimated and with little to no resources. But the Obamas’ touch on the idea of Black flight— where affluent Black people leave those communities as well.
The feeling of owing more to these communities set into Michelle after leaving the private law sector. “When I left that firm and started working in the city and getting out into the broader community of Chicago and seeing the interconnectedness of these neighborhoods, the being alive and the dirt and the grit of helping people, I never looked back,” Michelle said.
This story is familiar. Many Black people use their access to higher education and wealth as a means to empower their communities. The Obamas’ ability to reflect on their journey is inspiring.
“The Michelle Obama Podcast” is in a league of its own. The first full episode sets the tone for a podcast series full of refreshing, open conversations about life for all, but especially for Black people. The podcast schedule is unclear but episode updates can be found on Michelle’s social media pages, including Twitter and Instagram.