Unbothered host Jemele Hill reportedly in discussion to end Spotify exclusivity contract

Hill has yet to confirm rumoured plans to move to rival platform

Award-winning journalist Jemele Hill is reportedly in discussion with Spotify about ending her exclusivity contract with the platform, which covers her podcast Unbothered as well as the other two shows that make up Hill’s Unbothered podcast network. 

The news that Hill may be considering a move away from the platform was first broken by Bloomberg. A Spotify spokesperson told entertainment news website TheWrap that “there have been discussions” about the possibility of her departure, but did not confirm whether a final decision had been reached. PodPod has also reached out to Spotify for comment. 

Hill took to Twitter to dispel several rumours surrounding her relationship with the streaming service, including reports that Unbothered had been shut down by Spotify. 

“A lot of what’s been reported just isn’t true,” she tweeted. “My podcast hasn’t been cancelled. I never asked Spotify for $100M... When I have something to say, I’ll say it.” 

Although Hill stated that the podcast hasn’t been cancelled, she has yet to confirm the status of her contract with Spotify, and whether or not she is planning to move the shows to a different hosting provider. This also includes the rest of the shows within her podcast and production company Unbothered Network, which she launched in partnership with Spotify.

The network is dedicated to housing shows that amplify the voices of Black women, including Sanctified with Deborah Joy Winans and Lyvonne Briggs, and The Black Girl Bravado with Germani Manning and Brittany Lackey. 

A number of podcasters have recently ended their exclusivity contracts with Spotify including Michelle and Barack Obama, who ended the deal between the audio giant and their media company Higher Ground last year and signed with Audible to make their content more accessible. Brené Brown, host of Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead podcasts also announced that she was not renewing her exclusivity with Spotify in January after her contract ended, to take a break from podcasting. 

Spotify itself has started to make moves towards making some of its content less exclusive in order to increase its audience and ad sales. This includes moving over some of its Gimlet original podcasts to other audio platforms, including the Science Vs podcast. 

The company has been making a series of cutbacks over the last several quarters, after it reported facing €224m (£198m) in operating loss for Q4 2022 due to over-investing in the podcasting space with acquisitions and exclusivity deals. Spotify has since reduced its operating loss by 32% as of Q1 2023, after laying off 6% of its workforce at the end of January and reducing its budget through lower marketing and legal costs.