Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s deal with Spotify Technology has ended, a roughly $20 million partnership that lasted less than three years and only produced about a dozen podcast episodes from the Duchess of Sussex.
Archewell Audio, the audio production company founded by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, made headlines in December 2020 when it was announced that the company had secured a multi-year deal with Spotify to produce podcasts. The first podcast, a holiday special called “Archewell Audio Presents: A Very Special Holiday Special,” being released that same month.
The Wall Street Journal reported on June 15 that the royal Spotify alliance had “mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together,” according to a joint statement. In an earlier report, the WSJ broke the story that Markle’s “Archetypes,” the only show produced under the $20 million deal, was not greenlighted for a second season.
The deal, being one of the largest deals ever signed by a podcasting company, met with mixed reactions. Some people have praised the deal, saying that it will help to give a voice to marginalized communities. Others have criticized the deal, saying that it is a sign of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s growing commercialization.
The partnership’s dissolution comes on the heels of Spotify cutting off 2 percent, or 200 staff members, as part of a “strategic realignment,” according to The New York Times.
Since early 2019, the number of podcast shows on Spotify has grown from about 200,000 to more than five million, according to Sahar Elhabashi, Spotify’s head of podcasts, in an updated version of the letter posted on the company’s website.
It was a boom time for the podcasting sector, with media companies investing heavily to expand their offerings. Stockholm-based Spotify paid $230 million for Gimlet in 2019 and about $200 million for The Ringer in 2020, signaling that it was expanding its goals beyond music streaming. This frenzy of investment has slowed over the past year, as companies have cut back on podcast roles and slashed budgets.
According to Sky News Australia, Merkle will not receive the full $20 million payment from her Spotify partnership after failing to meet productivity expectations, and the conservative news outlet reported that her Netflix partnership, after the couple produced an exposé on their lives as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, has been called into question amid rumors that her upcoming project about wounded soldiers is mostly about herself.