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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Esports and music hub to open in Stockholm in 2021
Space, a music, videogaming and media company run by leading Swedish record label execs, has announced Space Stockholm, a seven-storey, 7,500m² (80,000sqft) gaming and music hub set to open in the Swedish capital in the first half of 2021.
The complex, to be located in Stockholm’s main square, Sergels Torg, will include recording studios, a co-working space, a gym, a nightclub and around 500 high-end gaming stations – along with an arena that, at a capacity of up to 800 seats, will be the largest permanent esports venue in Europe, according to the company.
Space’s co-founders are Gustav Käll, head of Universal’s esports label, Enter Records, Per Sundin, the former MD of Universal Music Sweden, and Lars Bloomberg, a partner at architecture firm DAP Group. Sundis is now CEO of Pop House Sweden, partly owned by Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus, which has invested an undisclosed amount into the project.
“Gaming, music and content creation are the three biggest pillars in terms of what the youth enjoy”
“In online culture, people are interested in gaming, music and content creation. They are the three biggest pillars in terms of what the youth enjoy,” Käll, who remains head of Enter – a JV between Universal Music and Electronic Sports League (ESL) – tells the Esports Observer. “We want to bring that under one roof.”
“Space Stockholm, with its unique location at the heart of Sweden’s capital, is poised to become a cultural landmark, not only for the city, but for the entire country,” says Anna König Jerlmyr, mayor of Stockholm, in a statement. “It promises a bright future for Sergels Torg by creating a modern, progressive hub for digital culture.”
Esports revenues are on track to exceed $900m this year, as a growing number of sponsors and investors show interest in the competitive gaming sector. Live music companies that have invested in, or partnered with, major esports competitions and teams in recent years include Deutsche Entertainment, AEG, CAA, TEG and Madison Square Garden Company.
Session launches Creator Credits, backed by UMG and Avid
Session, the Swedish music start-up co-founded by Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus and songwriters Max Martin and Niclas Molinder, has launched Creator Credits, an initiative that aims to help music creators be correctly credited for their work.
Creator Credits – described as “the world’s first end-to-end ecosystem for creator credits, in collaboration with leading music industry players” – enables music creators (songwriters, producers, musicians, artists) assign credits in the studio at the point of creation and automatically supply those credits ‘downstream’ to managers, record labels, publishers, performing rights organisations (such as partner society PRS), distributors and streaming platforms.
Session’s initial collaborators include MXM Music, the production and publishing company of hitmaker Max Martin, who has written 22 number-one hits; Universal Music Group (UMG); and Avid, which will embed Session’s technology into its industry standard Pro Tools recording software.
Session – formerly Auddly – announced the launch at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Texas on Friday.
“We are super-excited to announce this project and our collaboration,” says Session CEO Molinder. “I’m convinced that the best way to involve the creators in the data collection is as early as possible in the creation process. Session’s technology performs a short handshake with music society systems to authenticate creators and associate their vital industry identifiers with their account.
“When a creator walks into a Pro Tools powered studio their presence will be automatically detected and their identifiers, along with their typical contributions, can be easily added to a song.”
Barak Moffitt, executive vice-president of content strategy and operations at Universal Music, adds: “UMG is proud to work with Session’s team to make the process of assigning credits even easier and to ensure that the important work of contributors to songs and recordings are widely available.
“All contributors to a piece of music or any audio work should be clearly identified, recognised and rewarded appropriately”
“In addition to our own efforts, we have been working closely with Björn and Niclas for a couple years on the development of this platform as part of our commitment to a robust and effective crediting system for the benefit of the entire music ecosystem.”
With Session’s platform, the creator credit metadata travels with the song in the music industry standard DDEX RIN format as it is delivered to record labels and publishers. The creator credits package accompanies the audio and includes crucial industry identifiers for songwriters (IPI) and performing artists (IPN), as well as the emerging ISNI identifier, believed to be key to closing the ‘value gap’ between creators and digital platforms exploiting their work.
Finally, this creator identification information, along with their contributions to the recording and song, are assembled with the ISRC (recording identifier) and ISWC (composition identifier).
Once the song is then distributed to a streaming service, fans will have the opportunity to access more information about songs, while streaming platforms will enable consumers to follow their favourite songwriters, performers and producers.
“With Pro Tools software at the core of many of today’s music production environments around the world, the Avid team shares in the vision that all contributors to a piece of music or any audio work should be clearly identified, recognised and rewarded appropriately throughout the production and distribution process,” says Francois Quereuil, director of audio product management at Avid.
“We are particularly excited to enter a technology collaboration with Session and work with key players in the music industry to provide a durable solution to the challenges associated with capturing and recognising creators’ credits in an increasingly complex digital world.”
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.
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.
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.