Saturday, 8 October 2011

Club, October 1979: Hits and tractors

ABBA is in Holland. Their world tour is running smoothly and it's successful, as expected with everything related to ABBA. Their album 'Voulez-Vous' is breaking all sales records. ABBA is doing well. As long as it lasts...

With stars on their cheeks and platform boots on their feet, they were standing there: Anni-Frid, Agnetha, Björn and Benny: ABBA. At the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest they represented Sweden prominently with 'Waterloo'. Millions of people watched that Eurovision happening. And millions of people knew - just like the judges - after only minute, that this would be it. The Swedish group ABBA would make it with 'Waterloo'.
That phenomenon (knowing after one minute that this song is going to make it) has become familiar in the meantime. From April 1974 onwards, ABBA has taken the hit charts by storm. After 'Waterloo' came 'I Do, I Do, I Do', 'SOS', 'Dancing Queen', 'Name Of The Game' and many more.
Big and small record companies have been watching these proceedings with greedy eyes. Which record executive wouldn't want to have ABBA under contract? To have success, to establish a name and to make lots of money!
There's little chance for all these interested people. Now - in 1979 - ABBA is not planning to hand over their business to anyone. And they never planned that, for that matter. The 'battle' of 'Waterloo' was carefully prepared. In all peace and quiet they worked on their sound and - together with Stig Anderson - they founded Polar International Music. When the big hits came, everything was safely in their own hands. No obligations due to contracts with others, no outsiders that could tell them what to do. The records were written, recorded and released at Polar Music. The authors rights were guarded by people at Polar Music. The promotional videos were made there, as well as the big ABBA movie. And the tours and performances were scheduled there too.

Polar Music is doing very well. In 1978, they were able to make a profit of 35 million Dutch guilders! And these are just the royalties coming from ABBA music (records, lyrics and performances). Meanwhile, Polar has other things to take care of. The tax office in Sweden is demanding a lot of money. The ABBA team is paying enormous amounts of money to the public treasury, but wants to spend the Swedish kroner in different ways too.
That's why a couple of smart boys - who have A's in maths - were hired, that are busy investing the ABBA capital in all kinds of strange things. Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid own fishing boats, computers, tractors and other agricultural machines, office buildings, an art gallery and the most modern recording studio in the world...
The ABBA capital is safe. So there would be no problem if they get tired of quartet singing one of these days...

Is it possible that ABBA will quit in the near future? "It's starting to look like it," according to newspapers and pop magazines since Agnetha and Björn's divorce in December 1978. A couple of months ago, Anni-Frid travelled to Spain to shoot her first part in a movie called 'Try To Walk On The Water, If You Can'. "Anni-Frid goes solo, the end of ABBA," is what the papers are saying. "Nonsense," according to the people of the ABBA concern in Sweden. They want to extend the group's enormous success for some time to come. So for the time being, there are only rumours. 'Chiquitita' (one of the latest singles) sold 137.000 copies in Holland. It was the biggest selling ABBA single up till now. For the time being, the group is busy with their world tour and on October 24 they will perform live at the Ahoy hall in Rotterdam...

1 comment:

Monica said...

Can you imagine what songs we wouldn't have heard if they didn't have their own studio and label? They were so fortunate to have their own record label and didn't have to answer to anyone else but themselves. Thanks for the article Michel.