‘Not in a month of Sundays!’ Meghan and Harry may not receive £18m from Spotify deal
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex signed an £18million deal with Spotify in December 2020 but have since only produced just one 35-minute podcast episode. Speaking to Express.co.uk about the deal, media lawyer Ian Penman, who specialises in music streaming contracts, claimed that the podcasts are likely to have been less popular than Spotify and the royal couple expected.
He said: “It would not be an unfair assumption that perhaps their popularity was not as great as maybe they or indeed Spotify initially felt.
“I think you could draw a conclusion that if [Spotify] haven’t exercised the option on the next episode of the podcast, then maybe they did not have the popularity that either Meghan and Harry expected or indeed Spotify anticipated.”
But the media lawyer explained that Spotify is unlikely to have lost out.
He said that they are unlikely to have paid the full £18million upfront and are instead likely to have paid the Duke and Duchess of Sussex a small advance, retaining the right to back out of the contract if the first episode was not popular.
He told Express.co.uk: “It’s famously the case in music deals, this goes back decades, that when people talk about a large deal, like Robbie Williams signing a deal for £15m or something, it does not mean he gets £15m on day one.
“So the problem you have here, I would imagine, is that when they talk about an £18m Spotify podcast deal, it probably means that they have signed their first product, in this case a podcast – they then have many, many options for further products.
“All those options are in Spotify’s favour. Make no mistake, they’re not in Meghan and Harry’s favour.
“If all those options are exercised, and we don’t know how many podcasts that relates to, it may be that the total money spent by Spotify is £18m.
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Explaining how Spotify is likely to review their content, Mr Penman said: “What would probably happen is Spotify would analyse how many more users signed up, or how many more advertisers paid to be on Spotify as a result of that new podcast coming out and they’ll have their analytics bots crawling all over it.
“And then they would think, does this justify us getting episode 2 and paying an advance for that?
“I wouldn’t imagine in a month of Sunday’s that they’d parted with £18m to Harry and Meghan.”
In a statement announcing the podcast partnership in December last year, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex said: “What we love about podcasting is that it reminds all of us to take a moment and to really listen, to connect to one another without distraction.
“With the challenges of 2020, there has never been a more important time to do so, because when we hear each other, and hear each other’s stories, we are reminded of how interconnected we all are.”
Both Archewell and Spotify have been contacted for comment.
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