The emergence of crowd-funding websites, allowing fans to pledge money to their favourite acts, has delivered a lifeline to struggling artists who can no longer rely on largesse from the music industry. Yet even Abba – the proprietors of a billion-pound business – are now asking their fans to help produce their next official release by ordering pre-sale copies at nearly £200 a go.
The Swedish quartet, whose catalogue of hits is exceeded only by The Beatles, are the latest but surely the least needy hopefuls touting their wares on PledgeMusic, the “direct-to-fan” platform that allows musicians to fund their latest projects in return for guaranteeing an “experience” for their pledgers.
The Abba offer is nestled among appeals by DIY artists seeking £20 for a signed set list and exclusive T-shirt to help fund the recording of a new album. But in asking followers to help pay for the production of The Official Abba Photo Book, the Swedish pop stars are seeking a more sizeable sum.
The four – who have sold 400 million records, earning the songwriters Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus £100m each – are releasing the limited-edition, authorised history of the band’s career next April, marking the 40th anniversary of their breakthrough win in the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest. The 460-page book has a foreword contributed by each member of Abba and previously unseen photographs.
For £195, the PledgeMusic appeal offers fans the chance to receive a Super Trouper limited edition, restricted to 5,000 copies, which includes “an extra section of 20 pages listing all the dedicated fans who have made this limited edition possible”.
The appeal says: “If you order before December 31st your name will be inscribed in the pre-order edition. Make history and be a part of creating this extraordinary edition!”
The special edition, “presented in a beautiful bespoke presentation box”, is numbered and signed by the band and includes postcards, “a rare alternative shot from the cover shoot for Super Trouper perfect for framing” and a DVD of the making of Abba’s “first major authorised photo book”.
The first four copies “are reserved for the group members. Agnetha, Frida, Björn and Benny will be ceremoniously presented with their copies on publication”.
PledgeMusic, launched in 2009 to offer artists “additional revenue streams and deeper fan engagement”, claims that on average its campaigns raise 142 per cent of their target figure.
Abba are not the only established artists to use it. Downton Abbey actress Elizabeth McGovern is offering a 15-minute Skype chat for £50 to support the new album recording by her band, Sadie and the Hotheads.
West End star John Barrowman is making himself available for a hotel champagne tea in January for £150. “Let me entertain you,” the actor says.
Hardcore fans of Nineties girl-group B*Witched, now on the comeback trail, will be treated to a “dance and choreography class to learn B*Witched routines and the famous B*Witched line dance” for £50.