'Pop music has always been technology-driven': ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus on the state of the biz

'Pop music has always been technology-driven': ABBA's Björn Ulvaeus on the state of the biz

It’s been a busy time for Björn Ulvaeus, who’s been back in the studio with ABBA as well as developing metadata platform Auddly. As exclusively revealed by Music Week, the Swedish company has signed a long-term licensing deal with PRS For Music.

Here, Ulvaeus talks further about the state of the music industry and his top priorities for the streaming era…

Is this PRS deal a big moment for Auddly?

It is the big break. I got involved as an active investor because I was really interested in the development. I could see how important it is to get the vital data at the moment of creation. You can decide who did what, instead of leaving it until later.

That’s even more important in the light of Music Week research showing it takes 4.84 writers to come up with the biggest hits

That’s incredible, from my point of view. I always worked with Benny Andersson, we never had a problem with that! 

What are the benefits for users of Auddly?

It’s actually a very democratic tool. It puts an African songwriter on par with an American because they can register a new song, and they know that they are part of the world network, which they couldn’t probably do before in some countries. That’s the vision I had – songwriters all over the world can use it 

Is proper recognition for songwriters important in the streaming era?

I absolutely agree, it’s terrible to see how ignored they are sometimes – people in general don’t realise who’s behind a song other than the singer. I think this could change that because everything will be in Auddly – who wrote it, what they want to call themselves, where they wrote it, where it was recorded. So as metadata, this is exactly what I think Spotify and other streaming services long for – correct metadata from the horse’s mouth.

Have you embraced streaming?

Pop music has always been technology driven. We started off with an eight-track machine, Benny and I. I think Chess was the first one we recorded on a digital machine and we had lots of problems with them, but that was the digital age. So we’ve always embraced new things. 

Streaming puts more emphasis on the song – is that a good thing?

Well, I wish that a listener today could have the experience that I had from a new Beatles album, for instance. I don’t need the plastic thing, but listening to something which was a piece of work together, that was an experience people don’t have today if they just listen to one song at a time. They listen to playlists but that’s not the same thing as Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band or Rumours and all those classic albums.

So it’s important to get people to listen to albums?

Exactly, that’s the problem when you can’t attach it to a physical thing as you could with vinyl or a CD.

To read the full story on Auddly pick up the latest issue of Music Week – or subscribers can click here. To subscribe and never miss a big industry story, click here.

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