Whilst watching the wonderful BBC2 series ‘The Story of Musicals’ at the weekend, I felt a blog post coming on!
It struck me that as creative Entrepreneurs we can learn some business principles from the tales told in the programme, whichever industry our business operates in.
Despite a 25 year background in musical theatre and associated arts (and being an avid reader of books on the subject), I found some nuggets of information even I hadn’t heard before, which leads me to ….
Principle No. 1 - Be a life-long learner:
Things change so fast in the business world - particularly in the technologies we can employ in running our day to day business – that we always need to be on the lookout for the ‘next big thing’ and try to be ahead of the curve. If we take note of what our customers and competitors are using and learn how to use these tools as well, then we can give our customers what they need and stay competitive.
Principle No. 2 - Our past failures do not define our future:
In the documentary Elaine Paige told us she was fired from a nearly role in the chorus of ‘Hair’ for smoking something dodgy on the roof of the Shaftesbury Theatre in the interval! She later went on to find success and fame in ‘Evita’ and ‘Cats’, and also a recording career because she put her past transgressions behind her and they were overlooked in the light of her huge talent and suitability for future roles. So, we can learn from our mistakes, move forward and focus on the end goal.
Principle No. 3 - Test your business idea - start small:
Similarly unsuccessful at first, Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ in the early 1970’s but the subject matter was controversial and they couldn’t convince anyone to produce or stage it. The enterprising duo therefore brought out the recording to introduce the idea to the public, and when the staged version was then produced by the forward-thinking Robert Stigwood, it opened initially in the more liberal arena of Broadway rather than London, before eventually transferring and taking the West End by storm.
Principle No. 4 - Innovate:
The same two composers happened to enjoy writing musicals with subject matter which would appeal to a worldwide audience, so Stigwood spotted an opportunity and pioneered the idea of rolling out a successful production quickly all around the world. This had not been done before but today is standard practice for Producers such as Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh, to name but two. This also illustrates ….
Principle No. 5:
To find a viable business idea, consider ‘transporting’ a product or service to your area or market sector which has already been seen to work in another setting.
Principle No. 6:
Do what you love and are good at - the money will follow:
Lionel Bart started with a band in the 1960’s but was passionate about writing music and lyrics, both of which he was brilliant at (despite being unable to write musical notation). He changed the future of British musical theatre by penning ‘Oliver’ using traditional British themes and cultural references, to rival the hugely successful American ‘West Side Story’ (which incorporated New York street culture).
Principle No. 7
If something works, keep doing it!
With the same ‘blueprint’ as the JCS launch, Rice and Lloyd Webber’s ‘Evita’ was brought out as a recording first to test the water (with Julie Covington singing ‘Don’t Cry For Me Argentina’). After the resounding success of the record Elaine Paige was subsequently cast as Eva Peron, the production launched to great acclaim at the Prince Edward theatre, and the rest – as they say – is history.
Lloyd Webber’s outstanding career as a world-renowned producer continues today based on his proven formula for success – either familiar, well-loved shows with a new twist (including public casting via TV) or innovative specially-written spectaculars (Phantom, Love Never Dies) with a universal theme suitable for transporting to worldwide audiences.
Watch this space for future blog posts.
I look forward to sharing more tips, information and resources to support you on your exciting business journey!
To your creative success!