Dave Sebree teaches Austin how to rock.
A professional guitar player and performer, Sebree took out a $35,000 Small Business Administration loan in 1995 and opened the Austin School of Music. In 1996, the school posted total gross profit of $210,000.
Eleven years later, the Austin School of Music has grown to two locations, with Sebree’s 50-plus instructors teaching about 2,000 students a week. Last year, the schools brought in about $2 million in gross profit. Within the next year, Sebree plans to open a branch in Hutto and a smaller satellite location in the Bee Caves area.
In addition to the schools, Sebree operates a summer camp that kids actually want to attend.
Rock Camp USA is a two-week music course taught by professional musicians that culminates in the young rockers giving live performances before hundreds of music lovers at famed Austin venue Antone’s. Rock Camp USA is the only music camp where kids get to record CDs of their music in Sebree’s studio.
“The camp was born out of necessity and out of our observation that the kids weren’t getting together to play anymore,” Sebree says.
The camp has been so successful that it’s now getting some amplification.
With the help of friends and fellow musicians, Sebree plans to franchise Rock Camp USA this summer in Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City and Davenport, Iowa. He chose those cities because musicians who have worked for Sebree have moved there and want to continue supporting the business.
Sebree says he was inspired to franchise the concept by his business mentor, Gary Keller of Keller Williams Realty Inc.
“The plan is to make it successful in these cities by blueprinting the model. This summer, we’ll have a crew film me every minute of every day and edit that into a users’ manual for the franchisees,” Sebree says.
Keller says Rock Camp has proven to be a successful business model.
“The way it has been run by Dave and his team, it can be duplicated by others,” Keller says.
The franchisee investment in Rock Camp USA is about $25,000, with franchisees paying the Austin School of Music about 6 percent of the gross. Because Rock Camp USA only operates during the summer, Sebree says there’s no real estate investment on the part of franchisees; they simply rent short-term space, perhaps from other music schools.
Austin musician Rachel Loy graduated from Rock Camp and later was hired by Sebree as a music teacher.
Loy says the camp “gives kids an example of older musicians who are stable, and brings the reality of making a career in music a lot closer. We’re telling them, ‘You really can do this and you can do it now.'”