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More details emerge on Abba’s Voyage concerts

More details have emerged about ABBA’s upcoming ‘Voyage’ concerts, as tickets today (7 September) go on general sale.

The Swedish pop icons announced the “revolutionary” live experience last week (2 September) heralding the band’s first reunion in 40 years.

The Voyage concerts will see Agnetha, Björn, Benny and Anni-Frid performing digitally with a live 10-piece band, in a 3,000-capacity purpose-built arena in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London.

The residency is set to run from May 2022 until October 2022.

A variety of different ticket types are available for the concerts, including general admission (standing), auditorium seating and dance booths – of which there are eight, each named after people from the ABBA universe.

Each booth has seating and its very own dance floor. Fans can either book the entire booth or individual seats.

“The world has never seen a concert on a scale like this before”

Tickets for the ABBA Voyage were made available from 10 am on Sunday 5 September for fans who pre-ordered the album from the official ABBA store, and from 10 am Monday 6 September for those who pre-registered.

General sale commenced this morning (7 September) at 10 am with tickets starting from £21.

Ticketmaster UK was yesterday (6 September) named the official ticketing partner for the ‘Voyage’ concerts in London, tasked with providing the technology required to run all shows as 100% digital.

“The world has never seen a concert on a scale like this before and we’re beyond proud to be involved,” says Andrew Parsons, MD Ticketmaster UK.

“We’ve had the privilege of working alongside the ABBA team since the concert’s conception, and together we’re going to give ABBA fans the greatest experience from the moment they buy a ticket right through to show time.”

It was also revealed yesterday that British electro-pop artist Little Boots will be part of the live band (aka the ‘ABBAtars’) for the Voyage shows, performing keyboards, synth and backing vocals.

The musician – whose real name is Victoria Hesketh – wrote on Instagram: “It has already been a dream to spend time in the studio with my musical heroes.

“I am beyond excited for this journey to continue and to have the privilege of performing these songs with a group of the most incredible musicians I have ever played with. The sound of this band will give you goosebumps!⁠⁠”

 

 

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The live band will be supporting digital avatars of ABBA, which have been created by an 850-strong team from Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), the company founded by George Lucas (Star Wars, Indiana Jones).

According to Ben Morris, creative director at ILM, the avatars replicate the band members’ appearance in 1979 – their ‘prime’.

The characters’ movements, however, are based on five weeks’ worth of performances from the present-day members.

The four members performed every song in the 22-track ‘Voyage’ set over and over for five weeks in front of motion-capture technology.

ABBA’s ‘Voyage’ is ILM’s first foray into music but the company is joined by a number of stalwarts from the business.

The project is being spearheaded by producer Svana Gisla (David Bowie Blackstar/Lazarus, Beyoncé and Jay Z for HBO, Springsteen and I), producer Ludvig Andersson (And Then We Danced, Yung Lean – “In My Head”, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again) and director Baillie Walsh (Flashbacks of a Fool, Being James Bond, Springsteen and I).

Co-executive producer Johan Renck (Spaceman, David Bowie Blackstar/Lazarus, Chernobyl) and choreographer Wayne McGregor CBE (The Royal Ballet, Company Wayne McGregor, Paris Opera Ballet) are also leading the project.

ABBA’s ‘Voyage’ concert series will be supported by a new studio album of the same name.

‘Voyage’ will be released on 5 November on Polydor (UK)/Universal Music Group (UMG).

The album has already become the most pre-ordered album in UMG UK’s history, according to the Official Charts, receiving over 80,000 pre-orders in the UK alone.

The band have already released two songs from the album, I Still Have Faith In You and Don’t Shut Me Down.

See the full tracklisting for ‘Voyage’ below:

I Still Have Faith In You
When You Danced With Me
Little Things
Don’t Shut Me Down
Just A Notion
I Can Be That Woman
Keep An Eye On Dan
Bumblebee
No Doubt About It
Ode To Freedom

 


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CTS Eventim buys into Mamma Mia! The Party

CTS Eventim has acquired a 49% stake in Björn Ulvaeus’s Mamma Mia! The Party, the theatrical and dining experience based on the Mamma Mia! musical.

Abba co-founder Ulvaeus, who retains the other 51%, launched Mamma Mia! The Party in Stockholm in 2016, following the success of Mamma Mia! The Movie. It has run in Stockholm for four sold-out years and in September 2019 debuted at the O2 in London, where it ran successfully for six months. (CTS is the exclusive ticket agency for the London show.)

Set at the Greek-inspired Nikos Taverna, the event combines a four-course Mediterranean dinner with live performances of Abba hits and a post-show disco and party.

Ulvaeus, the show’s executive producer, says: “We are delighted to bring CTS Eventim further into the Mamma Mia! The Party family, following a successful collaboration during our first year in London.

“This is a vote of confidence both in Mamma Mia! The Party and in the recovery of live events generally”

“Despite the challenges of Covid-19 and the real hardships and uncertainties we and the wider industry face due to the pandemic, this is a vote of confidence both in Mamma Mia! The Party and in the recovery of live events generally.”

Eventim CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg adds: “Björn Ulvaeus is the creative mastermind behind Mamma Mia! The Party. Together with him and CTS Eventim’s extensive live entertainment know-how and marketing expertise, we will take this exciting production to a new international level, as soon as the restrictions of Covid-19 are relaxed.

“Even if the corona crisis is a major setback for the entire event industry, we firmly believe in this project, which has already proven its potential.”

The acquisition is Bremen-based Eventim’s third of 2020, following Switzerland’s wepromote and Norway’s Nordic Live (via FKP Scorpio) in January and a new company jointly owned with Michael Cohl, set up in February.

 


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Eventim partners with new ‘Mamma Mia! The Party’

Following on from three sold-out years in Stockholm, Mamma Mia! The Party will launch at London’s O2 next spring, with CTS Eventim as its exclusive ticketing partner.

The show first launched in the Swedish capital in 2016, a co-production between Björn Ulvaeus, former Abba member, and Ingrid Sutej, a veteran European live music and entertainment producer. Speaking about the show’s new home in London, Ulvaeus says, “We believe bringing Mamma Mia! The Party to The O2 will add to this already vibrant cultural destination and provide the perfect location for our exciting new show.

“[The show] has been created to let guests continue enjoying the party and enjoy being part of the show themselves.”

Set to the sounds of Abba, the show will transform one of the O2’s venues into a “wonderfully exotic Greek taverna,” telling the story of its landlord Nikos and his family. Alongside theatre and music, the 500-capacity show will serve guests a three-course Mediterranean meal.

“We want to do our part to ensure that as many visitors as possible will enjoy the timeless and joyful music of Abba”

Last week, Eventim was named as the show’s exclusive ticketing partner in the UK. Tickets will go on sale this autumn for next spring, with 200,000 being made available annually. On the exclusive partnership, Klaus-Peter Schulenberg, CEO of Eventim, comments: “I firmly believe that the show in London will seamlessly build on its overwhelming success in Stockholm.

“We want to do our part to ensure that as many visitors as possible will enjoy the timeless and joyful music of Abba.”

Mamma Mia! The Party adds to Eventim’s growing live entertainment portfolio, which has already helped the company achieve significant gains in the first half of 2018. Details of ticket pre-sales will be made available later this year, on the show’s official website.

 


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PRS partners with Björn Ulvaeus’s Auddly

UK performance rights organisation PRS for Music has agreed a long-term licensing agreement with Auddly, a start-up whose “digital handshake” technology the PRO will use to increase the speed and accuracy of its royalty payments.

The deal, says PRS, will enable its songwriter, composer and publisher members to capture their song and composition data – including agreement of shares – and register their works, with PRS at the point of creation, using a new tool powered by Auddly.

Auddly was co-founded by Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus, a PRS member who is the main investor in Auddly, and fellow Swedish hitmakers Max Martin and Niclas Molinder.

Its tool will enable creators to communicate directly among themselves to propose and agree share splits, cutting down on admin for publishers while capturing data in a consistent, standardised and transparent way for all interested parties, according to a PRS statement, preventing inaccuracies occurring as data travels along the value chain.

“Now’s the time for the world to realise that no one in the music industry is more important than us songwriters”

The new tool will also make it possible for industry identifiers such as ISWC (International Standard Musical Work Code) and ISRC (International Standard Recording Code) to be assigned at the same time, allowing both sets of data to travel along the value chain together.

“When I joined PRS for Music a few years ago, long before Auddly, I did so because I had the feeling that PRS were at the forefront of collecting societies,” says Ulvaeus. “They seemed flexible and willing to adapt to future technologies and, as I am a bit of a tech geek, I like that. [And] I was right.

“I’m immensely grateful to PRS for sharing Niclas’s and my vision and I’m proud to be his partner in this great collaboration. We share the goal to help songwriters get quick and fair payments and, not least, get credits whenever and wherever their songs are played. Now’s the time for the world to realise that no one in the music industry is more important than us songwriters. It all starts with a song!”

PRS agreed a new live music tariff of 4% – or 2.5% for qualifying festivals – with industry stakeholders last month, after three years of negotiations.

 


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No touring plans as Abba announce new music

A spokesperson for Abba has said there are no plans for the Swedish superstars to go back on the road – in person, at least – following this morning’s surprise announcement of new music.

Digital likenesses of the four-piece, who originally split in 1982, are set to tour as hologram ‘Abbatars’ in 2019 or 2020. In a statement, Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson and Anni-Frid ‘Frida’ Lyngstad – collectively one of the most successful acts in the history of popular music – said today “the decision to go ahead with the exciting Abba avatar tour project had an unexpected consequence. We all four felt that, after some 35 years, it could be fun to join forces again and go into the recording studio.”

The two new songs – one of which is titled ‘I Still Have Faith in You’ – will be performed by Abba’s “digital selves” in an NBC/BBC television special, set to be broadcast in December.

The band last performed together in person in June 2016 at a one-off private event in Stockholm.

Speaking to IQ, Abba spokeswoman Görel Hanser says there “no touring plans whatsoever”, with the Abbatar tour providing an opportunity for fans to “remember Abba as they were”.

Another source close to the band echoes Hanser in saying, “it’s a shame, but they absolutely won’t tour again”.

“It’s a chance for peopel to remember Abba as they were”

The Abbatar project was revealed in Brussels earlier this month, with Ulvaeus promising the TV special will be a “global television moment” to rival the Eurovision Song Contest.

The project, a partnership with Universal Music Group and former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller, is being billed as “a groundbreaking venture that will utilise the very latest in digital and virtual-reality technology” that “enable a new generation of fans to see, hear and feel Abba in a way previously unimagined”.

The band will appear as they looked in 1979, as “we thought we looked good that year”, says Ulvaeus. He describes the effect as “simply mind-boggling […] You’ll hear the voices of Abba coming out of the mouths of the Abbatars.”

Abba have sold more than 400 million albums but – in contrast to many of their contemporaries – have resisted offers to reform. Aside from the private party in 2016, the band have not performed live since 1986.

Their final full concert tour was 1979–1980’s Abba: The Tour, which visited arenas in North America, Europe and Asia. According to Billboard, total gross from five typical shows in North America – Pacific Coliseum (13,499 tickets) in Vancouver, Concord Pavilion (8,096) in California, Milwaukee Auditorium (6,120), Boston Music Hall (4,200) and Maple Leaf Gardens (16,400) in Toronto – was US$441,482, from 48,315 total tickets sold.

For comparison, 2017’s top tour, U2’s Joshua Tree 2017, grossed an average of $8.32m – per show.

 


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Touring expos-ed

Eamonn Forde discovers the latest string to the touring exhibitions’ bow…

There is a post-Napster and post-Spotify maxim in the music business that touring used to be the loss-leader to sell albums, and now that has been inverted so that albums are the loss-leaders to sell tours. How can that revenue be maximised if the act splits up, has passed away or fancies a few years lazing around in one of their multiple homes? By putting everything around them – clothes, artwork, instruments, scribbled lyrics, old contracts, unseen photos – on the road as they slipstream the boom in the touring exhibitions space.

Music is, relatively speaking, late to the party here but, as with most things in his career, Bowie was the innovator. His exhibition that opened at the V&A in London in 2013 (David Bowie Is…) proved a watershed moment for music-centric exhibitions, selling out its run, garnering critical praise, and now touring the rest of the world. The Stones’ Exhibitionism has left the Saatchi Gallery in London and go on the road, starting in New York from November. A major Pink Floyd exhibition will open next year, as will one around Abba (whose ‘touring’ since their split in 1982 was confined to the Mamma Mia! jukebox musical). It is suddenly getting very busy here.

What can music exhibitions learn from those already in the field? What can they do right? What are the mistakes they are likely to make? And how much money can they generate? IQ spoke to experts from around the world (dealing in family exhibitions, celebrity exhibitions, museum exhibitions and more) in order to understand what they do and how they do it.

 


Read the rest of this feature in issue 68 of IQ Magazine.


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