Source: ABBA THE BOOK
By: Jean-Marie Potiez
By: AURUM (http://www.aurumpress.co.uk
Mar  The long-awaited first album was released. Sales were impressive for a country with only eight million inhabitants: 250,000 copies of the single (‘Ring Ring’) and 100,000 copies of the album, which reached No. 2 in the Swedish charts.
Aug  Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid were presented with a gold disc for sales of the Swedish and English versions of the ‘Ring Ring’ single, as well as a diamond disc for the ‘Ring Ring’ album. Members of the Hootenanny Singers received gold discs for sales of their albums Vara Vackraste Visor 2 and Dan Andersson Pa Varl Satt, and Ted Gardestad received a gold disc for his album Ted. To mark the event, Polar Music released a retrospective album commemorating ten years of the record company.
Mar  Polar Music released the Waterloo album in Sweden, and the singles of the same title in Swedish and English. After just four weeks, the group had sold 125,000 copies of the album and 85,000 copies of the singles.
Dec  In France, the ‘Waterloo’ single was awarded a gold disc for sales exceeding 500,000 copies. In Belgium, it reached gold-disc status three months after its release. ‘Waterloo’ charted in fourteen countries, notably reaching No. 1 in the UK and No. 6 on the American Billboard chart – the United States having a reputation for being difficult to crack as far as pop music is concerned. Total global sales of the single were six million copies (of which 800,000 were in the United States). For its part, the album sold more than 3.5 million copies.
May  ABBA were in Paris to sing ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ on the programme Systeme 2. The clip was recorded in advance and screened on 1 June. On the RTL charts, they climbed no higher than No. 26. However, the single was awarded a gold disc. (A little clarification is necessary as far as the French charts are concerned. Unlike a lot of countries, French chart placings were not based on record sales up until 1984. They were produced by the directors of programme planning for private radio stations and inevitably were not representative of sales or the tastes of the general public. They were also based on other factors: the tastes of the programme planners, affinities with record companies, publishing contracts, and so on. In ABBA’s case, the group sold lots of records, were often played on the radio and on TV, but their chart positions didn’t reflect this.)
May  The group were in Copenhagen to take part in the programme Omkring Et FLygel, on which they sang ‘S.O.S.’ and ‘So Long’, and hummed ‘Alleycat’. During the afternoon there was a presentation of gold discs and a photo session at the famous Tivoli Gardens.
Jun  As Stig explained: ‘We pressed 250,000 copies of the ABBA album especially for Poland, while the demand was four times greater. As a result, these financial restrictions increased sales of ABBA’s records on the black market.’
Aug  In Australia, ABBA were becoming more and more popular. Since ‘Ring Ring’ and ‘Waterloo’, every single had been a hit. While RCA were planning to release ‘S.O.S.’ during the month of September, and unprecedented phenomenon occurred. The video for ‘Mamma Mia’ was screened on the programme Countdown. Record stores, the TV station and the record company were immediately bombarded with phone calls and letters asking for the song. Stig appeared reluctant to give in to RCA’s request for ‘Mamma Mia’ to be released as a single, fearing a saturation of the Australian market. It should be said that ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ and ‘I’ve Been Waiting For You’ were still in the charts. However, he gave in to the tide of phone calls, telegrams and faxes sent by the record company. It was a good decision – as soon as ‘Mamma Mia’ was released in August, it climbed the charts at breathtaking speed. When RCA released the album The Best of ABBA in November, it signaled the beginning of ‘ABBAmania’ in Australia. In the space of six months, the group sold 850,000 compilations and half a million copies of ‘Mamma Mia’.
Sep  Stig organized a party in a restaurant in the Ostermalm district of Stockholm. During the course of the evening, he presented the group with a platinum disc for sales of the Abba album in Sweden. Svenne and Lotta were given a gold disc for their albums Svenne And Lotta II and Oldies But Goodies.
Oct  Stig want to Copenhagen to receive several gold and silver discs for ABBA’s and Svenne and Lotta’s record sales in Denmark.
In the United States, ABBA’s standing was excellent. In 1974, ‘Waterloo’ had sold 800,000 copies and had been awarded the prize Most Played Song of the Year. The award was now given to them again for ‘S.O.S.’. In the trade magazine Cashbox, Phil Alexander ran the headline ‘ABBA – Hit Makers of International Success’. His article spoke highly of them: ‘Since the Beatles, no group has known how to capture the attention of people in the music industry or the public like ABBA.’ Of the new album he wrote: ‘This record combines a rare technical nature and a rare modernism. A genre somewhere between the genius of Bela Bartok and that of Elton John.’
Nov  Polar Music released Anni-Frid’s solo album, Frida Ensam. The release was limited to the countries of Scandinavia. The enormous success of the album in Sweden (130,000 copies sold) led to several rumours that Anni-Frid was leaving ABBA.
Nov  The compilation album Greatest Hits was released. Exclusively for the Swedish market, Polar Music chose to feature the wonderful painting by Hans Arnold on the sleeve. The record entered the Swedish charts on 28 November and stayed at No. 1 for eight weeks. It would sell 300,000 copies in Sweden. ‘Fernando’ was added to later editions. In Britain, the record would be released in March 1976, with a different sleeve.
Dec  In the United States, ‘S.O.S.’ sold more than a million copies. As a result of numerous TV appearances the group became better known and appreciated by American audiences. They also did a lot of TV and radio promotion in France, where, even if their songs did not always reach the top of the charts, as they did in Belgium, their records sold relatively well. After ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ (silver disc), ‘S.O.S.’ received a gold disc, and the youth press (Salut Les Copains, Stephanie, Hit Magazine) were becoming more and more interested in ABBA. It was a successful year in Belgium: ‘I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do’ reached No. 2, ‘S.O.S.’ No. 1, and ‘Mamma Mia’ had been at No. 2 since 12 December. They spent a total of thiry-one weeks in the Belgium charts. In Germany, ‘S.O.S.’ was voted Best Song of the Year. And in Britain, ‘S.O.S.’ and especially ‘Mamma Mia’ had put a smile back on the faces of British fans.
Apr  During April, ABBA made a brief promotional visit to France. The group performed ‘Fernando’ on the programmes Ring Parade and Midi-Premiere. Vogue released a new pressing of the Greatest Hits compilation, with ‘Fernando’ as a bonus track. After several months, the record was awarded a gold disc.
Aug  Polar Music released the ‘Dancing Queen’ single. Eight days later, the song was No. 1, staying at the top of the charts for fourteen weeks. More than 150,000 copies were sold in Sweden
Oct  Polar Music released the long-awaited album Arrival. There were advance orders of 250,000 in Sweden.
Oct  In October, due to the success of ‘Dancing Queen’, the Greatest Hits album returned to the top of the British charts. The album would go on to be one of the all-time bestsellers in Britain, staying in the charts for a total of two and a half years and selling more than three million copies.
Nov  The same day, Epic released Arrival in Britain. The album had already sold 300,000 copies through advance orders, beating the Carpenters, who had previously held the record for advance orders with 225,000 copies for their album Horizon.
BBC DJ Simon Bates presented them with thirty-two gold, platinum, and silver discs for the group’s sales in Britain, plus a diamond disc for the 1,250,000 copies sold of Greatest Hits. The festivities were brought to a close by Epic-CBS announcing to the group that, only four days after the single’s release, ‘Money, Money, Money’ had already sold 300,000 copies.
In Australia, ABBA pulled off an unprecedented achievement by having three albums simultaneously in the Top 30. The compilation The Best of ABBA had already sold 860,000 copies, and even before its release the Arrival album (which in Australia featured ‘Fernando’) had sold 750,000 copies through advance orders.
…We are now selling well everywhere, except for China, North Korea and Vietnam.’ On the other hand, ABBA fell victim to intense piracy. A stock of 700,000 pirated albums were discovered in Australia.
In the United States, sales of the Greatest Hits album exceeded 500,000 copies. Cashbox magazine had just awarded them the prize Top LP and Singles Artists of the Year. ABBA had also received awards galore in Britain. The figures spoke for themselves: 1,250,000 copies sold of Greatest Hits. The Arrival album, released at the beginning of November, had already sold 450,000 copies and sales of ‘Dancing Queen’ were approaching 850,000.
In Sweden, sales were also surprising for a country with a population of only nine million people. The Arrival album (which had been at the top of the chart for the last ten weeks) had already sold 700,000 copies. The Greatest Hits compilation had sold around 300,000.
In other countries, sales of the Arrival album were also exceptional: 800,000 copies in Australia, 225,000 in Denmark, 130,000 in Norway and 52,000 in Finland. In Holland, the cassette The Best of Abba was the biggest seller of all time. In Belgium, Arrival was awarded a gold disc. In France, the compilation Golden Double Album received a gold disc and Arrival would received a platinum disc a few months later.
Feb  There was a press conference at the Plaza Hotel. ABBA was presented with a number of gold discs for sales of the ‘Fernando’ single and the albums Abba, Best of Abba and The Very Best of Abba.
Feb  The following day, the Financial Times said: ‘A group which has sold 30 million singles and 14 million albums have to be taken seriously.
Mar  Stig had just received a telex informing him of the group’s sales in South Africa and Rhodesia. Greatest Hits had sold more than 50,000 copies. Arrival was still No. 1 in the charts, having sold 25,000 copies in South Africa and 15,000 in Rhodesia.
Oct  Polar Music released ‘The Name of the Game’. It had already sold 140,000 copies through advance orders.
Dec  Advance orders for the album (Abba – The Album) were impressive: 600,000 copies in Sweden and 200,840 in Norway.
Dec  Stig, who always placed great emphasis on sales figures, must have been overjoyed with the news that the Arrival album had beaten sales records in a large number of countries, for example Sweden, where 739,218 copies had been sold, Britain (1.5 million copies), Germany (600,000 copies) and Australia (1.2 million copies). In the United States, sales of the ‘Dancing Queen’ single and Arrival album had just passed the million mark.
Jan  Epic-CBS released Abba – The Album in Britain. The album had already been certified platinum and advance orders were estimated to be worth more than 1 million.
Jan  Sales of the album (Abba – The Movie) in France were already looking promising. Pierre Lescure wrote in Music Media magazine: ‘Since “Waterloo”, every single has sold 300,000 copies in France.
Jun  Abba – The Album reached sales of one million in Britain.
Jul  ‘Take a Chance On Me’ reached No. 3 in the USA. The single had sold a million copies, and Abba – The Album was steadily climbing the charts.
Aug  In reply to this huge demand, Polar Music at first agreed to license the pressing of 200,000 records. Several other countries of the Eastern bloc were to be granted licences during the year (via Sannes Trading), allowing them to press a specific number of ABBA albums locally: Poland (500,000 copies), Czechoslovakia (300,000 copies), East Germany (200,000 copies), Bulgaria (100,000 copies) and Hungary (50,000 copies).
Sep  Epic-CBS released the single in the UK, where its success was guaranteed by advance sales of 250,000 copies.
A fruitful year was drawing to a close for ABBA, Stig and their team. Everyone had worked hard and the results had proved that their efforts weren’t in vain. In Sweden, sales of Abba – The Album had reached 753,000 copies. In France and Belgium, the album had been awarded platinum discs. In Britain, the group had broken all records: Abba – The Album had sold over a million copies, and they had been at the top of the charts for nine weeks with ‘Take A Chance On Me’, Abba’s seventh No. 1 in the UK. Abba – The Movie was the seventh most successful film of the year, after Star Wars, Grease and Saturday Night Fever.
Feb  At the end of the interview, the four Swedes were presented with a silver trophy, the Bravo Otto 78 (voted for by readers of the German magazine) by Thomas Heidenreich, one of the group’s fans, as weel as gold discs for ‘Chiquitita’ in the UK (650,000 copies had already been sold).
Mar  During March, ‘Chiquitita’ was released in Japan. It was an almost instant hit and reached No. 3 on the charts. Since the group’s visit to Japan six months earlier, the group had sold 1.5 million records there.
May  Epic-CBS released the Voulez-Vous album in Britain. It was an instant hit, with advance orders of more than 400,000 copies, and had already achieved platinum-disc status. In just five weeks of sales, it would pass the million mark.
Oct  Polar Music released the album Greatest Hits Vol. 2 simultaneously throughout Europe to coincide with the tour. This new compilation featured fourteen tracks, including ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ and ‘Summer Night City’, available for the first time on an album. In Britain, 600,000 advance copies had already been sold.
Dec  A year and a decade were drawing to a close. The group were awarded numerous gold and platinum discs. In the United States, where their series of concerts had consolidated ABBA’s popularity, more than 140,000 Americans had seen the group and reviews had been encouraging. The Voulez-Vous and Greatest hits Vol. 2 albums had achieved gold-disc status.
In Britain, the Voulez-Vous album had sold an astonishing two million copies, while Greatest Hits Vol. 2 had earned two platinum discs… the new edition of the Guinness Book of Records said of ABBA: ‘The group has sold the most records in the history of music after the Beatles.’ Sales had been estimated at 150 million in only six years.
In France and Belgium, the Voulez-Vous and Greatest Hits Vol. 2 albums had both been awarded platinum discs. The ‘Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!’ single had just been awarded a gold disc. In Belgium, ABBA had achieved five No. 1s in the same year.
Jun  Polar Music released the Gracias Por La Musica album. In most countries, the album was released as an import by the label Septima Records (Polar Music). In Japan, the album reached No. 3 in the charts and sold more than 80,000 copies.
Jul  Polar Music released ‘The Winner Takes It All’. 300,000 copies of the single was pressed for the Scandinavian market.
Nov  The Super Trouper album established a new record for advance sales in Britain. More than a million copies of the album had already been sold.
Dec  Polar Music had just announced that worldwide sales of the Super Trouper album had exceeded seven million. This was a record in itself, as the album had only been on sale for four weeks. In Britain, with 1,700,000 copies sold, ABBA had beaten all records.
Elsewhere, Germany had recorded sales of 800,000 copies of Super Trouper, Sweden 360,000, France and Belgium 450,000, Japan 180,000, Canada 400,000 and USA 550,000.
Since 1974, sales of ABBA’s singles and albums had been in the millions in the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia. They had become a pop-music phenomenon and their media coverage rivaled that of the Beatles. However, in France, despite having sold more than ten million records since 1974, the group did not receive the coverage in the media that one would have expected. There was a significant reason behind this – Vogue completely lacked the desire to do any promotion. The French company relied on the success of certain records and had a tendency not tomake very much effort as far as radio, TV and the press were concerned. For example, after the group’s Eurovision victory, Vogue did nothing to promote ABBA in France. It wasn’t until 1976 that the first articles appeared in the French press. In comparison, groups like Boney M and the Rubettes saw themselves becoming very popular in France due to the promotional efforts of their respective record companies. On the other hand, the dynamic team of Gigi Bastin and Bob Navez at Vogue Belgium worked tremendously hard to promote ABBA in Belgium. The results speak for themselves: ABBA had so far had thirteen No. 1s in the Belgian charts.
Dec  Epic released the album The Visitors. A million copies had already been pre-ordered and the album entered the British charts on 19 December and stayed at the No. 1 spot for three weeks.
Nov  At a private reception on the top floor of Polar Music, Stig had recently handed out a number of awards for record sales in Sweden. Each member of ABBA, as well as Michael B. Tretow, had been given a gold disc for The Visitors album. There was also a gold disc for Agnetha and Tomas Ledin for their song ‘Never Again’. Finally, Frida was presented with a platinum disc for the Something’s Going On album and a gold disc for the single ‘I Know…’. Overseas, the first reports of sales of her album were promising: 100,000 copies sold in Sweden, 98,000 copies in Germany and 50,000 in Canada. In France and Belgium, Vogue had sold more than 400,000 copies of the single ‘I Know…’.
Dec  With The Singles – The First Ten Years, the final chapter in an extraordinary success story was coming to an end. The group’s worldwide sales were estimated at 175 million in 1982; no other group since the Beatles has surpassed ABBA’s achievement. In Britain alone, ABBA sold more than 18 million records in eight years, a real achievement in a country considered the world leader in pop music, and where it was almost impossible at that time for a foreign artist to break through.
Ring Ring (single) – 250,000 (Gold)
Ring Ring (album) – 100,000 (Diamond)
Waterloo (single) – 85,000
Waterloo (album) – 125,000
Abba (album) – Platinum
Greatest Hits (compilation) – 300,000
Dancing Queen (single) – 150,000
Arrival (album) – 250,000 initially, 770,000, 739,218
The Name of the Game (single) – 140,000
Abba – The Album (album) – 600,000, 753,000
Super Trouper – 360,000
Waterloo (single) – Gold (500,000)
I Do (x5) (single) – Gold (500,000)
Greatest Hits (compilation) – Gold
Abba – The Album – platinum
Super Trouper (album) – < 450,000
Arrival (album) – 600,000
Super Trouper (album) – 800,000
Waterloo (single) – Gold
I Do (x5) (single) – Silver
SOS (single) – Gold
Abba – The Album - Platinum
Super Trouper (album) - <450,000
Waterloo (single) – Gold
Several gold and silver discs
Arrival (album) – 225,000
Arrival (album) – 130,000
Abba – The Album (album) – 200,840
Arrival (album) – 52,000
ABBA (album) – 250,000
The Best of ABBA (compilation) – 850,000/860,000
Mamma Mia (single) – 500,000
Arrival (album) – 750,000 initially, 800,000, 1.2 m
Greatest Hits – 50,000
Arrival – 25,000
Arrival – 15,000
Gracias Por La Musica (album) – 80,000
Super Trouper (album) – 180,000
The Winner Takes It All (single) – 300,000
Super Trouper (album) – 400,000
Greatest Hits – 1,250,000 (diamond disc) or 3 m?
Arrival – 300,000 initially 450,000, 1.5 m
Dancing Queen – 850,000
32 gold, platinum and silver
Abba – The album – 1 m
Summer Night City (single) – 250,000 initially
Chiquitita (single) – 650,000
Voulez-Vous (album) – 400,000 initially, 1 m, 2 m
Greatest Hits vol. 2 – 600,000 initially, 2x Platinum
Super Trouper (album) – 1 m advance sales, 1,700,000 copies
The Visitor (album) - 1 m advance sales.
Waterloo (single) – 800,000
SOS (single) – 1 m
Greatest Hits (compilation) – 500,000
Arrival (album) – 1m
Take a Chance On Me – 1 m
Super Trouper (album) – 550,000
Waterloo (single) – 6 m
Waterloo (album) – 3.5 m
Super Trouper (album) – 7 m
Arrival (album) – 800,000 (Australia), 225,000 (Denmark), 130,000 (Norway), 52,000 (Finland), 770,000/739,218 (Sweden), 450,000/1.5 m (UK), 25,000 (South Africa), 15,000 (Rhodesia), 600,000 (Germany) 1 m (US)
Greatest Hits – 860,000 (Australia), 1,250,000 (UK), 300,000 (Sweden), 500,000 (US), 50,000 (South Africa)
Abba – The Album – 600,000/753,000 (Sweden), 200,840 (Norway), 1m (UK), Platinum (France), Platinum (Belgium)
Voulez-Vous – 1m (UK)
Super Trouper (album) – 1.7 m (UK), 800,000 (Germany), 360,000 (Sweden), 450,000 (France + Belgium), Japan (180,000), Canada (400,000), US (550,000)
1977 Feb – 30 million singles & 14 million albums
1979, sales had been estimated at 150 million in only six years.
1982 worldwide sales were estimated at 175 million in 1982. In Britain, more than 18 million records in eight years.