A Swede who lives in Finland and who is lost in Euroland - the wonderful world of Eurovision
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Abba had a plan

I got the question on Twitter, how come Abba managed to build a successful career after winning eurovision as most others have failed in doing so. There are many factors but in the end it all comes down to having a plan.

Abba had the luck to find themselves in a very creative surrounding. Their manager Stikkan Andersson was a skilled and talented promoter and had good contacts to major labels around the globe and he was also convinced that Abba had what it takes to become an international act.

Björn and Benny were highly talented and productive songwriters and producers, and the vocal sound provided by Agnetha and Frida in combination with the presence of sound engineering genius Michael B Tretow set a new standard in Swedish pop music.

The blessing in disguise was that their first eurovision attempt as a group failed. Ring Ring was a huge favourite in the 1973 Swedish final but only managed a third place when the panel of experts had cast their votes.

Abba - Ring Ring (Sweden 1973 national final)

This failure brought many positive things. First of all, it seems very unlikely that a likeable but simple song like this would have won the 1973 final in Luxembourg since it was composed of experts, like the Swedish jury had been. The song became quite a success even outside Sweden and opened doors in many territories, something that would come in handy later. And Abba got the audience on their side for next year's national final.

The 1974 Swedish final was mainly a formality and resulted in a clear victory for Waterloo. Now Stikkan Andersson was prepared and had secured local record deals and promotion for the song (as well as the subsequent album) and when victory came along in Brighton, all he had to do was push the button and the machinery was already underway.

Abba - Waterloo (Sweden 1974)

Abba was more of a direct hit in some markets while others were harder to break - it wasn't until late 1975 and the success of "S.O.S" that the group had their real breakthrough in the UK for instance.

But this is where most eurovision entrants go wrong, there seems to be no plan on how to handle potential success. Many a winner have declared that they will now try to conquer the world, but that is easier said than done. Eurovision puts you in the spotlight, but only for a very limited time. You need to act fast to capitalise on it.

If you win, there is no time to go back home and record an album. There is no time to make plans of your own, you have to accept what is offered and hope for the best. It it too late to put yourself in control at this point.

Last year's winner Loreen had an excellent opportunity as her winning song hit many international charts but not only was her album released at a very late stage, it took forever for her team to even produce a professional video clip of her winning song.

Then again - not everyone wants to be an international star either. Trying to conquer a bigger market is hard work and very tiresome and not necessarily met with success just because you are doing your best.

Abba are outstanding on so many levels - they had an almost Beatles-esque production flow, knocking out excellent singles and albums for many years, expanding their careers and re-inventing themselves in ways few other acts can follow.

Many winners have used their victory to become heroes on home ground or to break a certain market, and sometimes the victory allows you to do things in your domestic market that you couldn't do before.

And yet - in these days of the internet, where you can technically win the world over through YouTube, iTunes and Spotify, it would be interesting to see who would be the first eurovision winner to turn victory into lasting eurovision success.

The question is if any team present in Malmö has this plan - what do we do on Sunday if we wake up as winners? I hope at least somebody has.

Abba - The Name Of The Game

1 comment:

  1. Interesting analysis. In your next blog you could answer the question "How come Céline Dion managed to build a successful career after winning eurovision". The answer may not be that straightforward, but I believe that Eurovision had at least some part in her success.