Spotify executive calls Harry and Meghan ‘grifters’ after podcast deal ends

June 20, 2023

Spotify’s Head of Podcast Innovation and Monetization Bill Simmons has labeled Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex as “grifters” after their $20 million, multi-year deal to make podcasts with the streaming platform, signed in 2020, came to an end subsequent to their completion of just 12 episodes, reports The Guardian.

Ringer podcast network founder Simmons—who sold his company to Spotify for $196 million in 2020 and gained a leadership role at the company as part of the deal—criticized Harry and Meghan on his own podcast, following the announcement that the Sussexes’ audio production company, Archewell, had severed ties with Spotify

The Archetypes podcast, which was hosted by Meghan, featured conversations with friends and celebrities; including Serena Williams, Mariah Carey, and Trevor Noah. It topped the podcast charts for Spotify in a number of markets.

Last week, Spotify and Archewell Audio released a joint statement saying they had “mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together”. However, sources close to Spotify have said the royal couple did not meet the productivity benchmark required to receive the full headline payout from the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported.

“I wish I had been involved in the ‘Meghan and Harry leave Spotify’ negotiation. ‘The F*cking Grifters.’ That’s the podcast we should have launched with them,” Simmons said on his podcast. “I have got to 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 … F*ck them. The grifters.”

Simmons had previously said he was annoyed he had to “share” Spotify with Prince Harry.

In a January 2022 episode of his podcast, he said: “You live in f*cking Montecito and you just sell documentaries and podcasts; and nobody cares what you have to say about anything unless you talk about the royal family, and you just complain about them.”

“We’re going to be very diligent in how we invest in future content deals,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek added. “And the ones that aren’t performing, obviously, we won’t renew.

“And the ones  that are performing, we will obviously look at those on a case-by-case basis on the relative value.”

Research contact: @guardian