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Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen launch podcast on Spotify

Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen are making a podcast.

Spotify on Monday announced the launch of "Renegades: Born in the USA," featuring the former president and the legendary rock star in conversation on issues ranging from politics and the state of America to fatherhood, marriage and manhood. The conversations will span eight episodes, the first two of which go live on Monday.

The podcast, produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground, is decidedly the highest-profile collaboration in the history of podcasting.

"It is a personal, in-depth discussion between two friends exploring their pasts, their beliefs, and the country that they love — as it was, as it is, and as it ought to be going forward," Spotify said in a statement, noting that the two men "have formed a deep friendship since they first met on the campaign trail in 2008."

It is also another landmark moment in Spotify's aggressive push to dominate the podcast business. The Swedish streaming service has committed more than $500 million to acquiring podcast companies and has struck exclusive deals with big names including Joe Rogan and Kim Kardashian and major brands like Warner Bros.

In 2019, Spotify signed an exclusive deal with the Obamas to produce podcasts. Their first production, The Michelle Obama Podcast, was the top global podcast when it launched last summer, and Spotify is betting that the Obama-Springstreen series will have similar appeal worldwide.

Many of the conversations between Obama and Springsteen are likely to focus on fixing America's cultural and political divides.

"How did we get here? How could we find our way back to a more unifying American story?" Obama asks in his intro to the show. "On the surface, Bruce and I don't have a lot in common. But over the years, what we’ve found is that we’ve got a shared sensibility. About work, about family and about America. In our own ways, Bruce and I have been on parallel journeys trying to understand this country that’s given us both so much."

Obama and Springsteen unveiled the "Renegades" podcast during a virtual Spotify event in which the company also announced an expansion of their D.C. Comics shows and a new partnership with the Russo brothers, the directors of “The Avengers” films.

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Just finished episode 1 (was happy my normal podcast app had it).  Bruce seems to be talking like he is still doing his Broadway play.  Like he is giving a speech and everything he says needs to be profound.  I hope it gets more conversational from his side as it moves along. 

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Imagine if you were at a friend's house and Obama and you were alone in the den and you started talking about race and societal norms etc. 

It has to be a bit intimidating.  Now imagine if you knew you were being recorded and the entire world has a chance to listen to what you have to say on these topics in an exchange with one of sharpest minds on the planet.

I could prepare for 6 months to speak on these podcasts and in my mind it wouldn't be enough time to get ready.   At least President Obama let Bruce have the home field advantage.  Kudos to Bruce.


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