In a panel discussion I saw recently on the role of innovation in video games, the panelists agreed that a great game didn’t necessarily have to be innovative. Innovation was just one of the many factors that went into a good game.
Innovation can be looked at just the same in music. Sounding new isn’t the end all be all of an artist’s merit but one of the many factors that can make an artist stand out. Musicianship and style, for instance, can trump the innovative factor.
Sometimes making a better wheel can make as much of an impact as reinventing it.