Ten business lessons from 50 years of Abba

The group continues to generate revenue and be successful after half a century in the industry.

On April 6th, 50 years have passed since the triumph of ABBA in Eurovision. Its unusual longevity and global success continue to allow us to draw some lessons from this group’s history that can be applied to any other industry:

1. The businessor you can learn

Before ABBA, the producer Stig Anderson He was buying rights to worldwide hits to produce, distribute and promote them in Sweden. He learned how they were made and why they worked, the stories, structures, choruses, melodies, titles, etc. Understanding success allowed him to later create it from Sweden and conquer the world music market. In conclusion, he studied his business.

2. Visibility and simplicity

ABBA started when Waterloo won Eurovision. Until then, they were not a group. They were Björn Ulvaeus y Benny Anderssontwo composers, who occasionally sang with their girlfriends, Agnetha and Anni-Fridadriven by Stig’s direction. Eurovision was an opportunity to gain visibility in the European market. A simple story and powerful music did the rest. This way, everyone knows about it, everyone understands it.

3. First the business, then the company

In 1973, they did not win the previous contest organized by public television to go to Eurovision, but their song ‘Ring Ring’ was number one in Sweden and other countries. They then introduced themselves as Björn Benny & Agnetha Frida. In 1974, when they won the right to represent Sweden at Eurovision, they introduced themselves as ABBA, the initials of their names. After the victory, the group is formed to manage the success. So, when you have the business, you set up the company. Not before.

4. Ambition and humility

When a young graduate said she wanted to have her own project, no one took her seriously. At 21, people expect you to be a dreamer, but not to know what you want. What makes the film producer special Judy Craymer is the combination of ambition and humility. He wants to go far, but he knows that he doesn’t know. This makes him start his career by learning and networking. This attitude made his colleagues help him pursue his own project. ‘Mamma Mia! The Musical’created by three women who had never made a musical before, has grossed more than $4 billion. Ambition plus humility equals effectiveness.

5. Turning an idea into a project is a matter of faith

The idea belongs to an individual. He firmly believes in it. He will dedicate his life to evangelizing, to making his idea known, to explaining what it is and what it is not, to finding someone to help him. A long journey in the desert. Like that of Stig, who encouraged his composers to submit songs for Eurovision for five years. Or that of Judy, who took ten years to convince Björn and Benny to give her the rights to Mamma Mia! Or that of Simon Fullerwho in 2016 had the idea of ​​bringing ABBA back in concert, and ABBA Voyage was not released until 2022. Do you have faith in his idea?

6. The “no” as a stimulus

Success is connected with failure. First with actions and then with noes. Actions give you feedback from which you can learn. If you do nothing, you lose the opportunity to learn. The fundamental requirement for feedback is to be willing to receive it. So, everything you do allows you to learn. Another great school for success is noes. When someone says “no” to you, they are really saying, “Not like that.” Björn and Benny said no to Judy for 10 years. When they said yes, it was actually a conditional yes: “If you bring us a good story, we will say yes.” It took another two years to get there. A professional is someone who is capable of learning.

7. People with experience and people with desire

This lesson is common to many businesses. In football, with ‘Zidans and Pavones’. In cinema, with established stars and new faces. It is also the formula of the film Mamma Mia! With Meryl Streep, mature, who fills the poster and generates box office, and a young woman who is just starting out and takes on the world, Amanda Seyfried. Balance your teams.

8. Relay leadership

Horizontal leadership is not common in business. In Bjorn and Bennyone of the longest-running creative partnerships in music, the leadership by relays is evident. In ABBA, Stig initially leads, then Björn and Benny take over. In Mamma Mia! it begins Judythen Cathy and finally Phyllida. In Voyage, the start is from Fullerthey continue Ludwig y Swanthe producers and in the last stage the director, Ballie WalshCan you imagine your business led at every stage by the most capable?

9. Development is a matter of partners

The team, inside, takes care of the essentials. The partners, outside, take care of development. Business partners, to produce or sell. Sector partners, in activities that you do not master. Local partners, in markets that you do not know. If you want to grow, you need partners. As Tom Hanks (with his production company Playtone) or Meryl Streepfilm partners for three women who had never made films. Together they made ‘Mamma Mia! The Movie’one of the most successful musical films of all time. They invested 52 million dollars; they raised 700. Find the right partner.

10. A community that shares an emotion

Emotions that connect with the community: ‘church effect’. After 50 years, ABBA has done it again. How is it possible that 3,000 people fill an auditorium, every day since 2022? How is it possible to sell two million tickets? How is it possible that people pay to sing and dance with some abbatars? The key is emotion. ABBA Voyage has been a fight against the technology that has made it possible. A virtual ABBA concert does not produce emotions, beyond nostalgia. There has to be something else. The answer is in their songs. They generate emotions that you share with others. Try the ‘church effect’.

 
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