Why two Black podcasters declined a multimillion-dollar Spotify deal

BY Preta Peace Namasaba April 17, 2024 7:06 AM EDT
Gillie Da King and Wallo267. Photo credit: The Source Magazine

According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), intellectual property (IP) refers to the creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce. The owners of these creations are protected by the law through their trademark, copyright, or patent registration – others cannot use them without the owner’s consent. Big tech such as Apple, Microsoft, and YouTube and entertainers like Pharrell Williams, T.I., and Taylor Swift have been embroiled in IP disputes. It is a crucial aspect for many industries.

Although owners generally rely on their IP for business or other profitable purposes, a time may come when they want to sell it. This can be a great way to monetize an asset that may otherwise have little use, recover investment made, or even avoid the costs of maintaining an IP. However, sellers have to take into account several implications before deciding to sell intellectual property as they might end up giving away more than they are comfortable with. Once sold, an owner loses all rights to their IP.

Audio streaming service company Spotify sought to sign popular the “Million Dollaz Worth of Game” podcast for millions of dollars. However, the show’s hosts were unwilling to follow through with the IP stipulations and rejected the deal.

The “Million Dollaz Worth of Game” was launched by Gillie Da King aliases Nasir Fard and Gillie Da Kid and his cousin Wallo alias Wallace Peeples in 2019. The duo have comedic discussions about their careers, relationships, and music. Their guests include famous personalities such as Alicia Keys, Cardi B, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael B. Jordan, Meek Mill, and Kevin Durant, among others. The podcast hosts are also focused on offering candid advice to listeners about the life paths for young Black men beyond the stereotypical expectations and constraints often placed upon them.

“We came along and we do it so effortlessly that we make anybody feel like they can do a podcast. People are shooting their shot. We show people from all over the world, but specifically from the bottom — and we from that — [that] you can do other things out here other than play basketball, other than sell drugs, other than the typical things that you think is the only way you can win to get out of the ghetto,” Gillie Da King told The Hollywood Reporter.

Growing up in North Philadelphia, Wallo spent time in and out of the juvenile system. He was incarcerated for 20 years in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at only 17. He became an internet sensation within a year of his release from prison, accumulating a tremendous 7 million social media impressions every week. Wallo’s signature humor and drive for educating the youth has landed him lucrative partnerships with the NFL, PUMA, and Footlocker. With over 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube, the “Million Dollaz Worth of Game” which he cohosts is thriving.

The podcast’s popularity translated into attention from many that were companies interested in securing a deal with its hosts. One such brand was the audio streaming service platform Spotify which sought to sign them at one point. According to a recent taping of “Million Dollaz Worth of Game”, the company offered millions in exchange for the podcast’s IP. Gillie Da King and Wallo267 had no interest in following through with a contract that had such stipulations and turned down the deal.

Declining this offer ultimately benefited the podcast hosts in the long run.

“What we did with ‘Million Dollaz Worth of Game’ coming into the game early we own everything. Six months in, you know, shout out to Spotify. Shout out to the people over there because they did come to us. They did offer us some millions of dollars, you know what I mean Courtney Holt… Shout out to Courtney. You know he offered us some millions of dollars but they wanted our intellectual property. They wanted to own us, and we was like ‘No, we’d rather just bet on ourselves.’ And we did that and got five times what they was offering us,” Gillie Da King said on the podcast.

One of the other companies interested in working with the podcast was the media company Barstool Sports. It was successful in its bid and signed a deal reportedly worth $3 million for 50 percent ownership in the show in 2020. Gillie Da King and Wallo267 signed a new contract with the company two years later. What stands out for the duo is that they still own their IP rights.