ABBA, the Swedish pop giant that – when it comes to popularity – can compete with the Beatles in their heyday, owes its unlimited success for the most part to the relentless policies of the ruthless businessman Stig Anderson. Whoever wants something from or with ABBA, is being professionally squeezed dry by Stig...
The collaboration between Stig Anderson and ABBA dates back to the very early days, when the currently so successful Swedish group took their first hesitant steps on the path that should lead to practically absolute power in the pop business. However, there’s hardly any talk of a ‘collaboration’, it’s more like a one way street, wherein Stig gives the orders and ABBA obeys like slaves.
“I can imagine that something like this can come across as rather unengaging,” Stig admits wholeheartedly, “but on the other hand you mustn’t forget that without my help ABBA wouldn’t have achieved much more than some flimsy national – and therefore Swedish – fame. And that doesn’t account for much in the world. That’s why we agreed beforehand that I would control the commercial aspects on my own, a demand that was a logical consequence of my investments in the group.”
The chores have been distributed by Stig by contract: the boys have to provide great music, in which concept he writes most of the lyrics himself, and the girls have to complete the picture with their physical and vocal talents. “I have hit the jackpot with Anni-Frid and Agnetha,” says Stig as if he is willingly giving his opinion about two herd-book cows. “Not only do they look fantastic, but both of them are bursting with talent as well. It’s easy to find a hot chick but it won’t get you anywhere because you won’t make it with just a nice butt. The most important thing is that they know how to move, that they are able to get the audience going and that they have a voice that would even get the worst misogynist on his knees. When all of this is offered in a sexy package, it’s inevitable that the success will come and with ABBA it has turned out that this formula works effortlessly. There have been problems in the beginning. For instance, Anni-Frid and Agnetha thought that their movements on stage were just fine. Then I told them that they should take some ballet lessons first and – as it turned out – their presentation could be improved upon, to put it mildly. Now they are practising the flesh off their bones every day, but I had to put my foot down to reach this result.”
“It’s not any different with ABBA than it is with any other artist: they are living for their music and they don’t look beyond that. When you leave these people to their fate, others will take advantage of them on a large scale. Look, a bloke that wants to book a photo session with ABBA is making money from that and isn’t it logical then that the group gets a share in this profit? Every pop group is a company that has to make a profit and preferably as much as possible, because mostly their time at the top is very limited. That’s why it’s important that a manager takes care of their business and someone like that should be ruthless without being prominent because otherwise the group’s image will suffer. I am a manager like that.”