Is anyone still buying what Harry and Meghan are selling? - GulfToday

Is anyone still buying what Harry and Meghan are selling?


Meghan Markle, Prince Harry

Samuel Fishwick, The Independent

Does anyone want to hear what Harry and Meghan have to say anymore? The California royals’ megabucks podcast deal has been “mutually” junked after just a single season by Spotify and its billionaire boss Daniel Elk, who presumably has had enough of forking out the reputed $20m it took to eke a measly dozen podcasts from the Sussexes.

A shame for the groovy young things, for life at Spotify’s swanky HQs sounds like a 24-hour office party. So long to staffer paintball parties. Please hand in your animal onesie and your key to the karaoke suite at the door. But the radically-honest royals must surely be worrying that their commercial castle is starting to crumble. On the surface, the numbers look reassuring — if not rosy. Harry’s tell-all memoir Spare was an international bestseller, and the prince has promised three more books to Penguin Random House for a reported £33m, all-in.

But Meghan’s animated series Pearl was quietly scuttled by her Netflix paymasters last year, and there have been whispers that about the Sussexes ability to pump out content — and, indeed, whether the market has the stomach for the type of hand-wringing that Haz and Megs have made such a habit of recently.

Every artist struggles. Perhaps this is simply their flop era — that “difficult” third album. Yet it is striking that the gravy boat is starting to flounder just as Harry has his day in court. A desire to tell all after a lifetime of secrecy is understandable, if not admirable, but it is certainly difficult to think of an elevator pitch to sell a creative team who are chiefly exercised by exorcising ghosts. Much has been made of the duo reportedly planning to “stop” making tell-all Netflix documentaries, publishing memoirs and taking part in interviews that reveal the inner workings of the royal family, because there is “nothing left to say” — but surely the horse has already bolted.

For a couple determined to break with tradition and “turn the page”, they have been demonstrably backwards-looking when moving forwards: settling scores, opening old wounds and creating new ones. That is their story to tell, but it is starting to bore its target audience. Given that enough words have been written about Haz and Megz — and indeed by Haz and Megz — to fill a library, it was curious how few were spared in the terse joint statement after this latest split: “Spotify and Archewell Audio have mutually agreed to part ways and are proud of the series we made together.” The bank of bon mots is running dry. And what have they achieved? In December, Archetypes won the top podcast award at the People’s Choice Award in Los Angeles, which is nothing to sniff at, but which is hardly one of Hollywood’s glossier gongs, and certainly looks to fall well short of the seismic cultural moment the Sussexes set out to achieve.

For the kind of dosh they’re cashing, you would hope that when your stars spoke, they moved minds and mountains. The Sussexes have long pursued laudable ambitions of using their platform to champion mental health, but achieved much more when they worked hand in glove with the Cambridges, not against them. Their powder and spark has certainly been dampened after so long wallowing in self-absorption and psychodrama.

Meghan, for her part, has said that she has enjoyed “digging my hands into the process, sitting up late at night in bed, working on the writing and creative … and I loved digging deep into meaningful conversation with my diverse and inspiring guests, laughing and learning with them.” At least she’s busy.

But you can’t help but feel that the court of Montecito finds itself at a crossroads. They are not the first transatlantic hoppers to have made a pile of cash from sitting around twiddling their thumbs: much has been made of the Fleabag supremo Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s ability to bag $60m from Amazon in return for several years in which no shows have fallen out the pipeline. Nor are they the first to have found belts being squeezed by chilly headwinds blowing across the tech sector.

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