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Spotify axes Harry and Meghan after $36m deal

Music streamer Spotify has apparently dumped Harry and Meghan's Archetypes podcast.

Music streamer Spotify has apparently dumped Harry and Meghan's Archetypes podcast. Photo: Getty

Embattled music streaming service Spotify has dealt Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle a blow, deciding to “part ways” with the former royals.

The move, which came as Spotify sheds staff, means the Duchess of Sussex’s podcast won’t get a second season on the service.

It also followed rumours Netflix has also axed its multimillion-dollar agreement with the couple.

Signed at the end of 2020, the Sussexes’ $36 million deal with Spotify a triumph in the months after they quit royal duties and moved to North America. It promised “inspirational stories” as they built their new life, and was to be produced by their newly formed production company, Archewell Audio.

Since then, however, there have been only 12 episodes of Meghan’s Archetypes podcast. The podcast shot to the top of Spotify’s charts and scored a People’s Choice Award.

But there had been extensive rumours in entertainment media, including Deadline, this week that Spotify had decided it would no longer carry the Sussexes’s work.

“The team behind Archetypes remain proud of the podcast they created at Spotify. Meghan is continuing to develop more content for the Archetypes audience on another platform,” a representative for WME, which represents Meghan and Archewell, told The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news.

Then, on Friday afternoon (AEST), Omid Scobie, a journalist known to be friendly with the California-based couple, confirmed the news.

“Spotify and Archewell Audio have mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together,” he tweeted.

 

Spotify has recently laid off 200 staff amid a restructuring. Among those to leave was Dawn Ostroff, who was key in signing pricey and prolific talent deals, including Harry and Meghan. In all, Spotify shelled out more than $US1 billion on such acquisitions in her time.

“We have made the difficult but necessary decision to make a strategic realignment of our group and reduce our global podcast vertical and other functions by approximately 200 people, or 2 per cent of Spotify’s workforce,” head of podcast business Sahar Elhabashi said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Harry and Meghan’s Netflix deal also appears to be shaky, with the prince’s signature Heart of Invictus documentary long delayed.

The Sussexes signed a lucrative but unspecified deal with Netflix in mid-2020, months after they confirmed they were stepping away from royal duties. They said they would make documentaries, docu-series, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming.

“Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope,” the couple said at the time.

“As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us.”

Since then, however, there has been only the Harry & Meghan Netflix series in December last year. It was highly critical of the royal family.

Heart of Invictus, which was to follow competitors at the 2022 Invictus Games, was supposed to be their first project. But it is yet to hit screens, prompting rumours it had been cancelled.

Netflix has been largely silent since confirming in January that Heart of Invictus was on its schedule for the northern hemisphere summer.

There has been no further update – until this week, when Netflix told US magazine Newsweek that the information remained “correct” and “accurate”. It is still to announce a screening date.

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