Innovation lessons from the world of music – part 4

I write this having just returned from the English National Opera production of Mozart’s Magic Flute. As this run ends shortly, here’s a taste of what you missed:

It’s an interesting take which included modern day language, excellent use of Audio Visual effects, Papageno trying to kiss audience members and even a hash tag on stage! Whilst this will not be everyone’s cup of tea, there is still the great music and a quality cast.

Despite some poor reviews, like this one in The Guardian, I enjoyed this approach and if you want to make Opera a more inclusive experience for new audiences then this is a good way to do it.

This got me thinking: when you consider this work was first seen in 1791, how many other products out there have been around for as long without being adapted to modern surroundings? And what about those that failed to change? Now, I am not suggesting for one minute that all Opera should be staged in modern settings with the language of the day but that sometimes, we do need to inject some freshness into our product lines to make them appeal to new buyers or audiences.

A visit to will suggest a few companies who may now wish they had refreshed their product lines before their customers disappeared.

Sometimes, it may be necessary to completely re-invent yourself too – and this can be very successful! Take my former employers at RSA (Royal & SunAlliance) as an example. I spent some time prior to the merger of the old Sun Alliance and Royal Insurance working in a team that were exploring new products and channels to market with a new brand and new fulfillment approaches. I believe that from these seeds, the concept of a new brand emerging from the old one led to the creation of the now highly successful “More Th>n” brand we know today.

And there are parallels in music here too: Who remembers Shane Fenton and The Fentones? No? Here’s a little reminder:

A few years later, a new style and a new name: Welcome Alvin Stardust!

Of course, you don’t have to change your name – simply taking a new direction can work wonders too as rocker Linda Ronstadt proved when she turned her attention to the arranging skills of the legendary Nelson Riddle for a series of 3 albums of Jazz and Pop standards that bought her to the attention of a whole new audience. I leave you with this brilliant version of a 1939 song, “What’s New”.

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