Catalogue is one of the most exciting areas of the music industry in 2023, as platforms open up new opportunities for classic repertoire.
Given how competitive the business of classic songs has become, the win for ABBA and Universal Music Recordings/Polar Music in the Catalogue Marketing category at the Music Week Awards 2023 was an impressive result.
The Swedish superstars are, of course, a streaming perennial. But they also have a significant shop window in the form of ABBA Voyage, the digital avatar show at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park that has now passed one million visitors since launching in May 2022. It is open for bookings until May 2024.
“ABBA are doing something unique at the moment with the Voyage concert,” said Chris Dashwood, marketing director, Universal Music Recordings. “I think that's really captured the imagination of people, and we've used that opportunity for the catalogue.”
ABBA were recently recognised for passing a billion streams in the UK alone.
ABBA’s Gold greatest hits was the 10th biggest album of 2022 with sales last year of 197,843 (Official Charts Company). So far in 2023, the collection has registered a further 111,123 chart sales (97,471 from streams). Consumption is 28.2% ahead of the 86,691 registered for ABBA Gold at the same point in 2022. The album is maintaining its streaming with a No.11 position in the year-to-date albums rankings.
“The music has reached a lot of people that it hadn't reached before,” said Dashwood. “When you go and see the show, there are so many young people, so many children and so many people that are discovering ABBA for the first time. So it's then marrying up that enthusiasm with the catalogue music that we have, which is just golden.”
Dashwood said ABBA are “right at the top” when it comes to classic catalogue. The Gold collection has spent most of this year inside the Top 20, including four weeks in the Top 10.
“It’s what people are consuming, the charts don’t lie,” he said.
With merch and music available at the Voyage concert, physical sales are also strong. Box sets and limited edition vinyl was released for the residency. The Gold collection alone has moved 10,000 units this year, 31 years on from its original release. Meanwhile, 2021’s comeback album Voyage is on 474,955 sales.
As well as developing the ABBA Voyage concert of greatest hits, the original members take a close interest in their catalogue campaign.
Creative agency Yes Please Productions were commissioned to create new videos for 20 tracks.
“They [ABBA] are involved in everything we do, they need to approve and see everything we do,” said Mia Segolsson, general manager for Polar Music in Sweden. “It's really great to see the videos coming up again, and so many more people seeing them right now. So this [Music Week Award] is really great, they’re so pleased.”
“Yes Please Productions produced and provided the creative direction for all 20 lyric videos for the ABBA Gold campaign,” said creative director Lucy Dawkins. “We oversaw every aspect of the videos, from initial conception through to the delivery, creating fresh interpretations of their biggest hits.
“We thoroughly enjoyed delving into the world of ABBA to make these videos. Researching each track, and the fashion and musical influences on the band at the time they were written, were all considerations when creating concepts for each track. We’re delighted that the loyal ABBA fan base have responded so positively to the series and that a whole new generation of fans are enjoying these classic tracks.”
The catalogue campaign will continue with a huge anniversary in 2024 – 50 years of Waterloo, which won ABBA the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974.
“It’s a huge moment for ABBA, so next year is going to be bigger than this year probably,” said Dashwood.
Click here for all the Music Week Awards winners.