Business Lessons from the “King of Waltz”
I was extremely privileged to be able to take my beloved Mum over to Maastricht last week for a surprise trip to attend an Andre Rieu “King of Waltz” concert in his home home.
I have to say I didn’t know too much about Andre. I knew he was the biggest selling classical artist in the world, sold more concert tickets than Beyonce and played the Waltz a lot. I suppose I also knew (from a quick look on Sky Arts) that he made a lot of people happy and his concerts are anything but “stuffy”
I wasn’t expecting much for myself – or my hubby who had engineered the whole plan. It was a special treat for my Mum who absolutely loves and adores Andre. I certainly was not expecting a masterclass in business!
Love him or loathe him, you cannot help but admire this man and the success he has created – not only for himself, but for so many other musicians and performers.
So, here’s the lessons from the Maestro:
Andre had a dream. He wanted his own orchestra and he wanted to travel the world. Having witnessed too many classical performances where, in his words, the audience looked half dead, he wanted to create an environment that bought the audience to life. That made them connect to love and happiness – if that’s not the ultimate goal in life, I don’t know what is!
Andre came up against a lot of negativity from his peers. His ideas were “poo-pooed” and he had to persuade players to join him. When he started, classical music was deemed to be very “old fashioned” and his preference for the waltz, was seen as even more old fashioned.
But Andre had a dream and he held on to it.
Lesson: Keep your dream in the front of your mind at all times. Never stop dreaming.
Put Yourself Out There – Become Visible
Probably one of his biggest gambles, early on in his career, was to take his violin on to the football pitch at half time in a Champions League game between Ajaz and Bayern Munich. Playing his famous Second Waltz (Shostakovich) he soon had the whole crowd swaying, waving flags and singing along. The next day it is said half the population of the Netherlands and Germany went out and bought his CD.
Fame had begun…
Lesson: Customers can’t buy from you if they don’t know you are there…
Know Your Customer
31 years in business and Andre’s company still seems to be growing. He fills out stadiums across the world. His tickets sell out as soon as they go on sale – whether that is for a live performance or a night in the cinema.
He still sells millions of CDs and DVDS.
He achieves this, because he knows exactly who his customer is. He knows what they are looking for. What their needs are and how he can fulfil them and delight them. He over-delivers on every level because he knows what will make a great memorable experience for them, that they will want time and time again.
Lesson: Know absolutely everything about who your customer is. How old they are, what sex they are, where they live, play etc. Market to them and them alone. Don’t try to be something to everyone. People may hate you for it, but those that love you will truly love you and be loyal to you…
Andre would not be the biggest selling artist if he didn’t have a plan.
It is said that every single detail of every single performance, CD, DVD etc is planned in incredible detail.
Stage sets, dresses, trucks, coaches, instruments, repertoire – even food – everything is planned.
Having a plan saves time. You know what you have to do, by when
Lesson: Get hold of your dream and plan out what it takes to get there. Your dream may seem to big to achieve in one step, so break it down in to tiny steps. Know what you need to do today, in order to get there tomorrow…
Whilst Andre is known to check over every single detail (he even signs off each dress that is made for his orchestra) he knows that he needs a team to execute his plan.
His operation is massive. Each year he undertakes a world tour. He is close to 69 years old. He physically and mentally could not keep this up without delegating tasks and responsibility.
If Andre had not taken the “risk” to delegate, then his business would have stayed small. He could not have achieved his dream.
By delegating, Andre is able to save his best, for what he does best.
Lesson: Focus on doing the things that you do best. Don’t waste your time trying to tackle jobs you find difficult and hate. Learn to delegate early on and your business will grow so much faster. It’s hard to let go and invest, but so worth it.
Takes Calculated Risks & Learning from Failure
It’s hard to achieve big dreams without taking any risk. Thorough preparation though means that each risk is a calculated one. Andre doesn’t stumble blindly on, hoping things will work out and be ok. He has learned to minimise risk by taking control himself – for instance, he doesn’t rely on a tour promoter to sell his tickets – he does it himself – that way he knows his fans will not be let down.
Like many super successful entrepreneurs, Andre Rieu has failed big time. One of his calculated risks led him almost to financial failure. Did it stop him? No, of course not. He learned his lessons, adapted his plan and carried right on.
Lesson: Learn from your failures – it will make you and your business so much stronger. Don’t avoid risks – it’s part of the territory. Just do your research and plan – what’s the worse that can happen and what can you do if it does happen…?
Multiple Streams of Income
When Andre came to virtual financial disaster he was able to save the day in effect through sales of his DVDs and CDs.
Much of his time is spent developing relationships with all his audience. He doesn’t neglect those that just live for his CD – and he keeps pumping those out at an incredible rate – despite the trend moving away from CDs in to streaming and downloads…
Whilst most of his income does come from tours, he has insured financial success by dedicating as much attention to his other profitable income streams.
Lesson: Don’t rely on one revenue stream, one customer. Take your talents, resources, assets and see how many ways they can be utilised in order to create a number of profitable income streams. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket!
Provide Great Value
However much fame Andre Rieu has. However many tickets he sells for his concerts. He always offers great value. He isn’t greedy. Just because he is famous and popular, he doesn’t screw the audience by over-charging.
His prices are in alignment with what others charge – yet he has a payroll of over 100 employees. A large orchestra to pay and soloists for every show. He puts keyring and water bottles on the seats for his audience. He treats them to a firework show, lighting effects and so much more.
People literally do all they can to get hold of his premium tickets.
People don’t buy on price alone. Cheapest doesn’t always get the sale. Highest doesn’t always mean the best.
By putting great value at the heart of his pricing Andre’s fans don’t consider price as an obstacle to purchase.
Lesson: What can you add to what you do to make your service / product truly great value? How can you “over-deliver” – still ensuring it is profitable to do so of course…?
Andre may be known as the “king of Waltz” with his hero being Johann Strauss and he may be knocking on 69 years old.
He does, however, make full use of all things modern!
He engages with his audience on facebook and twitter. He knows these platforms allow his fans to get close to him, get to know him, get to trust him. He knows these platforms allow for his work to be shared freely and easily. Whilst he travels the world, these platforms allow him to feel like he is just next door to his fans. He shows his fans how important they are to him. He keeps them informed. He keeps them engaged.
Around the Vrijthof Square in Maastricht during concert weeks, you’ll find large image of Andre and his orchestra performing. These are interspersed with images of Andre with his arm outstretched – around you in effect – ready for you to capture the perfect selfie. (see my Mum’s above – even at nearly 77 she was overjoyed to get one!) The backdrop reminds you to post your image on all of his social media sites along with the hashtag…
He manages all of his ticket sales online – from his own sites.
His concerts include strobe lighting and fireworks – amongst other effects like snow and balloons.
He decides the effect he wants to create and then finds the technology to make it happen.
Lesson: Find out how technology and the latest software and trends can benefit your business. Find out how to incorporate them to save time and reach your market efficiently and effectively. However small your business is, make sure you have the best online presence you can get – people search for everything online these days!
Looking After the Team
There’s a limit to what you can achieve on your own. Sooner or later you are going to need a team. In Andre’s line of work, he need a team right from the start.
Much of Andre’s orchestra have been within for 25 – 30 years – right back from when he first started. Obviously he provides a relatively secure and regular income for them. But he also demands a heavy workload. 100 – 120 concerts each year – delivered right around the world. Plus hours in the studio knocking out CDs and practicing.
He couldn’t achieve his success without them.
So, he looks after them. Very well. He is one of the team. He is their “dad”. When on tour they share everything as one big family. He cares for them and helps them. He demands perfection, but does what he can to ensure his team can deliver it – that they are at their best, that they feel valued, they are central to his success, that they are happy and can have fun in their work.
You can’t make your audience feel great if your team don’t feel it.
Lesson: Look for a win – win situation with everyone who is in your team – includes contractors, sub contractors, suppliers etc. Make sure everyone you come in to contact with in relation to executing your business feels great doing business with you. (This doesn’t mean settling for second best in any extent!)
Being Fit To Work
Andre once lost a lot of money because he took ill and had to cancel concerts and refund ticket sales.
With a heavy work schedule and an ageing body he realised that he had to do something about his health.
He took up sport, engaged a personal trainer and made sure he got fit and healthy. Never once did he think, this is too much for me, it’s time to give up. He made sure he was in a physical and mental state to cope with it all.
He also now engages 3 chefs so he and his team can all eat healthily all the time – they even travel with him when on tour across the world.
Lesson: You need stamina to run and develop a business. Are you keeping yourself as healthy as possible? Build in some dedicated fitness work each day.
You Are Never Too Old
From what I have seen and read, Andre Rieu has no thoughts of retiring or slowing down.
He’ll be 69 later this year.
His orchestra is 31 years old. That means he went for his dream at the age of 38.
Last year in Maastricht he put on 9 concerts. This year he did 13.
He is still growing his business. Still bringing his dream to life.
His next goal is to play on the moon. Yes really. He’s already allegedly had the conversation with Richard Branson…. my feeling is, if anyone is going to do it, then yes, it will likely be him!
Age is just a number. It’s no reason to give up. Just accept your lot. Think your time has passed. You can do whatever you want to do – so long as you are prepared to take the action you need in order to get there.
Lesson: Whatever your age, today is the best day to get started… Age is no barrier to success.
There’s no such thing as a lazy day in Andre Rieu’s life. He is living his passion. He loves every single moment. He is a happy man living his life purpose.
So, what are you key takeaways? What can you learn from the “King of Waltz” to help grow your business?
For many of us, our dreams are much more conservative than Andre’s. Yet the secret to our success remains the same as his. Whether you want to make 5 figures or 9 figures, you need to follow the same path.
If you’d like some support and expertise to help you on the path to success, get in touch with us now for Business Coaching / Consultancy or come and join us in our Planet Peacock Business & Travel Club.