School of Rock, the 2023 winner of Global Franchise’s Grand Champion award and three-time winner of Best Children’s Service & Education award has been enriching the lives of youth and adults through the power of music for 25 years. Originally launched as a single location in Philadelphia in the late nineties, School of Rock has developed into a trademarked brand and global phenomenon. It now operates over 326 after-school music instruction schools in 15 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Ireland, Mexico, Paraguay, Portugal, Spain, South Africa and Taiwan.
School of Rock is the winner of numerous accolades, such as Top Children’s Music Enrichment Brand in Entrepreneur’s 43rd Annual Franchise 500, Top Franchise for 2022 and Best Franchisor in the Medium Class by Franchise Business Review. The brand shows no signs of slowing down in 2023 and beyond, with 200 additional schools in development in the United States and new flagship schools internationally.
Innovation and inspiration
Innovation has been key to School of Rock’s success beginning with its core music education approach, The School of Rock Method, which was awarded a U.S. patent validating it as an exclusive concept and practice in 2021. The groundbreaking School of Rock Method builds musical proficiency through its proprietary Method App, Method Book collection, SongFirst approach, Method Engine, and performance-based music curriculum. The program sets itself apart from traditional programs that generally focus on one-on-one instruction and rarely teach students how to perform with other musicians.
The School of Rock Method combines one-on-one instruction with group rehearsals and live performances, an approach that allows students to learn techniques, theory and sight-reading, and quickly apply those skills performing with other musicians. Students start their musical journey by learning to play songs that inspire them. Classic songs like AC/ DC’s Thunderstruck and Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven are used to teach technique and theory.
“While we’ve become more sophisticated, and built our curriculum out significantly, the core idea is the same as it was at the start,” says chief development officer, Tony Padulo. “If we can get kids inspired and cultivate their connection by having them play the music they want to play, we can use that excitement to teach them the same concepts they would learn elsewhere with the trademark performances we are noted for. Within a few months, a brand-new student could be playing his or her first real rock concert as part of the curriculum at a real venue in front of an audience. The result is that our students become engaged and enthused and emerge as great musicians.”
Well-established franchise model
School of Rock understands what it takes to succeed as a franchise, and has a proven track record going back to the mid-90s. Over the years, the company has developed the techniques, the business processes and the franchisee-centric culture that provides a blueprint for the franchisee’s success. The franchise concept travels well due to low logistical, supply chain, technological, language and operational complexity. Popular music and child enrichment is universal, and School of Rock’s concept allows customization to celebrate local popular music while instilling musical proficiency.
The individual qualities a School of Rock master franchisee must have includes the following: having an astute business mind; a proven track record of managing an organization in a fast-paced, demanding environment; strong knowledge and awareness of the local music scene and trends in their country; access to the financial resources to develop and then continue to support the School of Rock franchise business on an ongoing basis; resources to create and execute an aggressive expansion plan to build brand awareness for all services; be committed to delivering a fast-track return on investment via the rapid development of the franchise business through recruiting unit franchises within the master franchise country or region, and access to an established team of people with shared entrepreneurial beliefs and combined experience in human resources, finance, operations, sales and marketing. Experience in franchising is also a benefit, but not a deal-breaker. Passion for music, education and creating a business with high community impact, are essential.
Many successful School of Rock franchisees are former or partially retired musicians or music industry execs, but others are successful entrepreneurs from other industries. There are also parents impressed by how School of Rock transformed their shy, isolated kid into a self-confident musician, finding his or her identity performing with a band onstage. Regardless of their background, all franchisees have one thing in common – an appreciation for the opportunity to improve the lives of children in their local communities through the power of music.
Building a strong community
Another very important ingredient for School of Rock’s success is the franchising awarding process, with a clear path that allows candidates to properly evaluate the opportunity and the chance for the brand’s team to analyze if the potential franchisee is a good fit for the School of Rock business model and community.
School of Rock’s desire to expand even further internationally and continue to diversify is supported by its commitment to building a growing passionate community dedicated to enriching lives through performance-based music education, with 2023 goals to include new master franchisees in the United Kingdom, France, India, and more.
As CEO Rob Price states: “This is an incredibly exciting time to be a part of School of Rock as we continue to build on this momentum and expand across the globe to fulfill our mission to enrich lives through music.” If there is a love for rock music and a desire to learn in a group format, then there is potential for a School of Rock franchise.
At a glance
Year Established: 1998
Number of franchised outlets: 326
Location of units: 15 countries
Investment range: U.S. $1.5 million + for master development, U.S. $395,800 to $537,400 for individual units
Minimum required capital: U.S. $1 million for master development, U.S. $125,000 for individual units