In late 2020, Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle announced a £18 million Spotify through their foundation Archewell. As of December 29, 2021, they have only completed one single 35-minute episode. There are now growing rumors that the couple’s lackluster and low-performing content may have cost the couple millions of dollars.
The podcast world is a cutthroat and competitive business. Spotify is one of the giants in the industry and swooped up brand Sussex in December 2020 in order to capitalize on what the company thought could be an incredibly popular and unique program with former royals Harry and Meghan.
But, if rumors and reports are any indication, the couple could not deliver.
While the first episode did make some waves, it failed to reach the heights that Spotify anticipated.
As has been widely reported, the couple’s podcast was at one point trailing in the ratings at 17th place and was beaten by whale noises during its first outing.
A Spotify spokesperson in July shared with Marie Claire that the public could look forward to content from the couple this year. The couple also hired Rebecca Sananes as the head of their audio team in July, which should have been a sign that the California based royals were about to get serious.
Well, they now officially have only two days in 2021 to drop new content. While it’s entirely possible, it’s also rather doubtful as well and Spotify is likely already fed up and looking to pull the plug on their business relationship.
The deal may have been worth millions to Harry and Meghan, but they have to produce content. It shouldn’t be that difficult, unless their plan is to produce one 35-minute podcast every year, which is ridiculous.
As royal expert Sean Neil said: “Apparently Spotify are mystified by the lack of content.
“I’m not really mystified by it, when you think about it there are two people who have never truly made audio broadcasts before or really had any involvement within the media.
“The former actress, of course, has appeared in a few movies and TV but that’s really is their extent of media involvement.
“What’s interesting to note is there have been some false stop-starts but it does appear Spotify is saying, ‘where is the content?’
“They’ve only paid a small, sizeable fee but they want to see something.”
I’ve personally been involved in podcast productions, on my own and with a company. They do take a bit of time but are not all consuming. A podcast recorded at the beginning of the week can be mostly finished by the end of the week if done by yourself or with a small team. Daily podcasts likely have a larger, more dedicated team that is able to get out both audio and video content daily.
Welcoming a new child is overwhelming, but Harry and Meghan are blessed with probably almost round-the-clock care. They also have assistants, a team and other home-based help that can support them as they manage all of the different things they’re trying to do.
There’s no reason why they cannot produce a single podcast episode in an entire year, especially since they only narrated and allowed their famous guests to do most of the heavy lifting on their first attempt.
Either the couple are spread too thin trying to create their brand, or they just don’t have the creative skills to produce compelling content. I would bet it’s the former and not the latter.
It’s unlikely that they will receive all of the £18 million that they were originally promised. They’ll receive some money, but only the rest if they ever deliver.
No doubt, based on how the Spotify situation is going, Netflix is beginning to worry a bit as well—but it’s clear at least in that situation that the couple are producing a reality show featuring themselves as one of their main offerings. Whether that succeeds or fails is unknown.
Only time will tell, but it’s clear that the relationship with Spotify, if there is still one, is definitely on the rocks for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
A royal title may have been able to get them in the door, but they have to produce quality and compelling content. If they can’t, then they may find that their Hollywood opportunities may quickly go by the wayside.