Harry and Meghan's brand could crash after end of Spotify deal

Harry and Meghan's brand could crash after end of Spotify deal

June 16, 2023

Why Harry and Meghan’s brand could come crashing down: Experts warn Sussexes could lose up to $10m in deals after Spotify parted ways with royal pair – but Duchess could build an empire like Gwyneth Paltrow or the Kardashians

  • The first episode of Archetypes launched last August as part of a £20m deal  

Spotify’s decision to cut their losses and scrap their deal with Meghan and Harry could cost the couple $10million and does not bode well for their fading hope of becoming a $1billion brand, experts told MailOnline today.

Meghan Markle’s podcast Archetypes will not be renewed for a second season in what has been described as a mutual decision between the Sussexes and the streaming behemoth.

PR guru Mark Borkowski told MailOnline that it is very bad news for Meghan and Harry’s brand and a sign ‘their star is really falling’. He estimated that the failure could cost them up to $10million.

He said: ‘They didn’t get the quality of the product right and the gooey front of their new reality faded. The air is going out of their much hyped balloon and these little things begin to erode that juggernaut of hype that they delivered when they broke away from the Royal Family’.

”If no one is interested in anything they have to say about mental health or the Royal Family then their star is really falling. It is not a good day for the long term brand of Meghan and Harry’, he added. 

Meghan Markle’s Spotify podcast Archetypes will not be renewed for a second season as the Sussexes and Spotify parted

It comes amid reports that the couple will stop making documentaries and tell-all books as they have ‘nothing left to say’

Mr Borkowski said that he believes that they could lose up to 40 per cent of the $25million deal after it ended, which would be around $10million.

Archetypes launched with great fanfare last year, featuring stars and celebrity friends including tennis legend Serena Williams, pop megastar Mariah Carey and South African comedian Trevor Noah.

But it was plagued by mixed reviews from critics, with The Times in London comparing the listening experience to being ‘locked in the relaxation room of a wellness spa with an unusually self-involved yoga instructor’. Spotify also reportedly became impatient about the pace of recordings – 12 episodes in two years.

READ MORE: Meghan Markle’s Archetypes podcast is AXED by Spotify: Streaming platform and Sussexes ‘agree to part ways’ with royal pair ‘set to lose full payout due to low productivity’ 

There was also said to be tensions about how far down the charts her podcast and individual episodes dropped. Spotify was even accused of wrongly using its own official podcast chart to keep Meghan Markle at No 1 when she was lagging behind Joe Rogan and other stars in terms of daily listeners. And earlier this year the head of Spotify admitted he got a ‘little carried away’ and ‘over-invested’ in expensive podcasts as the streaming giant made a loss of £187million ($230m).

Brand and culture expert Nick Ede told MailOnline today that Spotify will have pulled the plug and it is a sign that the post-Megxit wave the couple were riding is crashing, predicting more brands will dump them amid rumours Netflix are also unhappy.

‘It looks like Meghan’s brand isn’t such a box office winner and I can see a lot of other businesses following suit’, he said.

Mr Ede said amid rumours Netflix are also unhappy with the couple, Meghan’s relaunch of The Tig is near-certain, as her options become more limited. He believes that the couple will have lost ‘many millions’ from the dead Spotify deal. Meghan dined with Gwyneth Paltrow a few weeks ago and will probably have grilled her on how she made Goop worth $250million.

Mr Ede said: ‘I think that this is optically a really negative position for Meghan and her brand to be in. With this news, and the news that Netflix are not happy with the output from the Archewell team, either she is set to lose millions from these deals.

‘It also shows that these huge brands have not as much confidence in Meghan and Harry and that the halo effect they were riding on post-Megxit is now beginning to fade.

‘Brands need to make money . They pay for talent not because of emotions but because of economy. I think that Meghan will build her own community and brand like Kourtney Kardashian and Poosh or Gwyneth Paltrow with Goop. So I think The Tig will probably have an audio arm where she can produce and play Archetypes and it will be available on all platforms, not just Spotify’.

The Spotify deal was viewed as a key plank in the couple’s post-Megxit plan to become financially independent from the Royal Family.

Mark Borkowski predicted in 2020 that if properly advised they could potentially become a billion-dollar brand to rival their friend Oprah Winfrey, but now admits this is unlikely after a series of wrong turns.

Meghan signed off her 12th episode in the Archetypes podcast series with a defiant piece of poetry about survival

Is Meghan Markle bringing back her popular lifestyle website, The Tig? She dropped a hint that it may be making a comeback in the Netflix docuseries, Harry & Meghan

But since 2020 the couple have taken poor decisions, and ‘whining and moaning’, has left Americans and Brits fed up, commentators have said.

Meghan Markle began her US relaunch last month as she posed with youngsters on a charity visit and dined with Hollywood royalty before preparing to accept a ‘racial inequity’ award.

The Duchess of Sussex seemingly went to ground as Prince Harry promoted Spare in January and their popularity plunged – but the former actress is now making a very public comeback.

READ MORE: Harry and Meghan ‘are FINALLY going to stop writing books, making documentaries and sitting down for interviews to bash the Royal Family’ claim insiders

In May, she and Harry were spotted leaving a sushi restaurant in Montecito with celebrity couple Cameron Diaz and Benji Madden following a Michelin-star meal.

Gwyneth Paltrow and her husband, TV producer Brad Falchuk – as well as Bumble chief executive Whitney Wolfe Herd and her husband, Texas oil heir Michael Herd, are said to have dined with them.

There is speculation Meghan may have been bending Ms Paltrow’s ear about relaunching her blog, The Tig, having seen how the actress’s Goop lifestyle website has made at least £200million.

Her decision not to be in London to see her father-in-law crowned King allowed her to celebrate Archie’s fourth birthday with her mother Doria and friends – but it also gave her time to plot her next move in TV, books and podcasting, insiders claimed.

One source told The Telegraph that Archewell, the Sussexes’ broadcasting business, is looking to hire writers to create ‘feel-good’ shows including romantic comedies for Netflix.

Meghan was reportedly upset by an episode of South Park, which lampooned the couple by depicting two royals on a ‘Worldwide Privacy Tour’ while plugging a memoir.

With multi-million-pound bills to pay, the couple could front more shows for Netflix, who signed them up for a reported $100million in 2020. But their Spotify deal is no more.

The Duchess of Sussex, 41, first launched the website – which she branded as her ‘passion project’ – in 2014, and for three years, she used it as her personal blog. It was shut down in 2017 when she was in a relationship with Prince Harry

When closing the blog down in 2017, she reflected on how it had ‘evolved into an amazing community of inspiration, support, fun and frivolity’

But The Tig relaunch looks her most likely next move, unless a new book is announced. The lifestyle blog ran from 2014 to 2017 – at the height of her fame in TV show Suits – and featured everything from New Year’s resolutions to diet tips and fashion finds. She also explored feminist topics and shared musings from her childhood and career before she got her big break. If she were to relaunch it, she is now more famous and would be unshackled by any constraints of being a working royal.

The streaming giant and Meghan and Prince Harry’s audio production company Archewell Audio released a joint statement on Thursday night saying they have ‘mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together.’

Meghan and her husband Harry reportedly signed a $20 million deal with Spotify for the project in late 2020 but insiders close to the audio giant claim that the royal couple did not meet the productivity benchmark required to receive the full payout, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The move to ditch the Duchess of Sussex’s show, which explores the ‘labels that try to hold women back’, follows discussions months ago about renewing it for a second series.

The determined Duchess, however, is still planning to create more podcasts and find a new home for her series, that has previously featured her friend and tennis star Serena Williams, pop sensation Mariah Carey and South African comedian Trevor Noah.

The axing of the show comes after sources close to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex claimed the pair would stop making tell-all Netflix documentaries, publishing memoirs and sitting down for interviews that bash the Royal Family, as they have ‘nothing left to say’.

Spotify was said to carry out conversations for a second series of Archetypes earlier on the year following the end of the first season, but conversations later stalled.

The talent agency that recently signed Meghan, WME, told the WSJ: ‘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.’

The podcast reached the top of Spotify’s charts in the week it premiered.  

Spotify, Archwell and WME have been contacted by MailOnline. 

It comes as Spotify announced it would be laying off around 200 staff members – around two per cent of their workforce – who work within their podcast teams. It cited difficulties in making podcasts profitable, despite its popularity among listeners. 

Meghan signed off her 12th episode in the Archetypes podcast series with a defiant piece of poetry about survival – but made no mention of a potential second series.

Closing the show, which featured men for the first time, she quoted the Greek post-war poet Dinos Chrisianopoulos and said: ‘What didn’t you do to bury me? But you forgot that I was a seed.’

The royal pair have raked in millions since moving to California. Prince Harry’s bombshell memoir Spare was part of a $20 million book deal 

Discussions to publish more content from Archewell, the production company owned by the royal couple, are ongoing, the paper reported. 

Since leaving officially leaving the Royal Family and moving to California in 2020, the Duke and Duchess have pursued a number of different avenues to bring in revenue.

This includes Prince Harry’s bombshell memoir Spare, which he created as part of a $20 million deal with Penguin Books.

The couple also teamed up with Netflix to produce the docuseries called Harry and Meghan, with the streaming giant reportedly paying the pair $100 million for the six-episode series.

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