Spotify CEO sheds potential light on why Meghan Markle’s podcast was cancelled

Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify, has hinted that Meghan Markle’s Archetypes podcast was cancelled because listeners weren’t pleased with it.

In a recent interview with BBC, Ek was asked why Spotify opted to cut ties with Prince Harry and his wife Meghan back in June. His comments came months after the streaming service announced it was parting ways with Archewell Audio – the Sussexes’ production company – resulting in the end of Meghan’s podcast after just one season.

When asked why Spotify was no longer working with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Ek hinted that listeners weren’t as “happy” about Archetypes as expected.

“We thought new innovation was needed to happen here,” he said during the interview, as reported by Page Six. “We thought we can come in and offer a great experience that both makes consumers very happy and allows new creators new avenues.”

Ek expressed that there were things that both did and didn’t work with Spotify’s deal with Archewell Audio, before acknowledging that the streaming company is now moving forward.

“And the truth of the matter is, some of it has worked, some of it hasn’t,” he explained. “We’re learning from those and we are moving on.”

The Spotify CEO also gave his best wishes to Harry and Meghan, if they choose to continue their projects with another streaming service. “We wish all of the ones we didn’t renew with the best of success they can have going forward,” he added.

Back in June, the end of the couple’s partnership was first confirmed in a statement from Archewell Audio and Spotify. “Spotify and Archewell Audio have mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together,” the statement read.

The podcast saw Meghan speak to celebrities, historians, and experts about the history of stereotypes levelled against women. Tennis star Serena Williams, singer Mariah Carey, socialite Paris Hilton, and actors Mindy Kaling and Constance Wu were among the guests who appeared during its first season.

As for why the couple ended their deal with Spotify, which was reportedly worth $20m, the Wall Street Journal reported in June that the pair hadn’t “met the productivity benchmarks required to receive the full payout from the deal”, citing insiders familiar with the matter.

Under the terms of the 2020 deal, Harry and Meghan were signed on to produce and host “programming that uplifts and entertains audiences around the world” in the form of podcasts that championed diverse voices. Throughout their Spotify partnership, Meghan only delivered 12 episodes of the Archetypes podcast.

After Archewell parted ways with the streaming platform, podcaster Bill Simmons – who sold The Ringer to Spotify for $200m – slammed the Sussexes in an episode of his own podcast last June. “The f***ing grifters. That’s the podcast we should’ve launched with them. I gotta get drunk one night and tell the story of the Zoom I had with Harry to try and help him with a podcast idea. It’s one of my best stories.”

While Meghan’s podcast has been met with both praise and criticism, previous Archetypes guests have come to the duchess’ defense. During an interview with Us Weekly in June, Bravo host Andy Cohen – who appeared on Archetypes in November 2022 – hit back against claims that she didn’t conduct her own interviews for the podcast.

“That’s an insane rumour. Her podcast is conversations with people. How would she not have, of course she did,” he said, before adding that his conversation with Meghan was “quite well-researched,” “well-informed,” and “thoughtful”.

The Independent has contacted representatives for the Sussexes and Spotify for comment.

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