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The development deal between President Obama and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground and Spotify announced in June 2019 has already led to the debut of The Michelle Obama PodcastThe former President will now get into the act with a series he will co-host with rocker Bruce Springsteen. The show is called Renegades: Born in the USA and its eight-episode debut season will feature their conversations between the two friends on topics of race, fatherhood, marriage, and the future of America.

“On the surface, Bruce and I don’t have a lot in common. But over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility. About work, about family and about America,” said Obama. “In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys trying to understand this country that’s given us both so much. Trying to chronicle the stories of its people. Looking for a way to connect our own individual searches for meaning and truth and community with the larger story of America.” The first two episodes of the Renegades: Born in the USA podcast were released Monday.

News of the Obama-Springsteen pairing come Monday during Spotify’s Stream On event, geared to detailing several new podcasts and services the company has created – many designed to address monetization shortcomings. 

On the content front, Spotify is gearing up for the first series from the multiyear agreement it inked last year with Warner Brother’s DC Comics. The first project will be the series Batman Unburied, slated for release later this year. “We are really leaning into playing around with surround sound,” said Executive Producer David Goyer. “One of the members of Batman’s rogue’s gallery is very creepy and so the idea of that character leaning over the listener’s shoulder and whispering things to them is going to be particularly nightmarish.”

DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Jim Lee said the types of stories that can be told with Batman are “pretty broad” and that will allow Goyer to “explore the suspense-thriller side of Batman and do something different in a new format.” Lee said they plan to release other podcasts starring Catwoman Katana, Superman, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, Riddler, and Batgirl. “There are so many characters that we can explore – I think the fanbase is going to respond to this in an exciting way and embrace it as something new and novel and it supplements all the other ways they take in the DC universe,” he said. 

Spotify announced a new partnership with AGBO, Anthony and Joe Russo’s entertainment company. They are the creators behind films like “Captain America: Civil War” and “Avengers: End Game.” The multi-year, multi-series deal will see AGBO develop podcasts for Spotify. Few specifics were released, but Spotify said the shows will span genres and include “expansive, inter-connected narratives.”

From Written Word To Podcast. 

Spotify also debuted a new feature that will make it easier to translate the written word into a podcast. It has partnered with WordPress to take written content and make it a podcast through the Anchor platform. “We think it is going to empower a whole new group of creators,” said Sara Lerner, Head of Podcast Formats at Spotify.

She said Anchor is also going to add new tools to make it easier for podcasters to create video. There are also new interactivity tools being launched, like polls and Q&As published for each episode. “This is going to enable podcasters to get real-time information from their listeners,” said Lerner.

The Ringer Goes Global

Spotify said Monday it plans to expand its service into more than 80 countries, with additional markets opening across Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and Latin America. To appeal to those new listeners, sports podcast site The Ringer will go global.

“We’re going to build on the success of Ringer FC with a slate of programming for markets across the world,” said Gimlet Head of Content Lydia Polgreen. 

The Ringer was founded by former ESPN commentator Bill Simmons in 2016 who struck a $200 million deal last year to sell the company to Spotify.