Innovation lessons from the world of music – part 6

One of the things I find amazing about musicians is their capacity to innovate – and I don’t just mean new technologies.

One definition of innovation from The Business Dictionary is “the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value or for which customers will pay.” – and there some great examples of people who have done just that: taken a good song and done it in a way that is very different from the original.

One of my current favourites is a brilliant cover of “All about that Bass” – the Meghan Trainor original is a huge hit out here judging by the amount of video plays on the music channels but the idea of a real bass player covering this is genius! Here’s Kate Davis’s take on the song:

I think we will be hearing a lot more about Kate Davis! There’s also a good parody of this song here.

And thanks to Peter Cook of The Academy of Rock, here’s another brilliant take on this song by Andee Price:


Going back to creating something customers will pay for, I would think that getting your new album to  #2 on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart and going Gold in Canada suggests that Paul Anka got this spot on when he did a great series of swing covers of well know rock songs. Who would have imagined Spandau Ballet’s “True” quite like this:


If there was ever a band that sold millions of records on the back of an ability to craft out fine arrangements of other people’s songs, it has to be James Last who according to wikipedia, has sold over 100 million records. Of course, it helped he had fine musicians like the late Derek Watkins in the band:


So instead of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”, maybe your business should be thinking “if it isn’t broken, make something new out of it” instead to increase product reach and ultimately, sales revenue.

Or what about that product you have that still doesn’t seem to have a use? You know, the “solution looking for a problem”?  Just like 3m did with their “pressure sensitive adhesive“, thinking of a different use for it could just be your next killer product!. I don’t recall Bruce Springsteen making much out of “Blinded by the light” but Manfred Mann’s Earthband turned it into a massive selling single :

Of course, it isn’t always someone else improving your song though! There are many examples of a band releasing a totally different version of a song that is very different to the original. In this way, Eric Clapton extended not only the life, of “Layla” but would have increased the royalties on the way! (and with the introduction of payments for musicians if you play any of these video’s, you too will have contributed!).

In fact, there will be many of you who never heard the original so I will end this post with Derek & The Dominoes classic version:

Remember that your next killer product could be someone else’s dead product or a second lease of life for one of your own older ones! And simply changing the name isn’t enough – Snickers is still a Marathon bar!

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