From punk vet to business and politics leader, with School Of Rock’s Rick Carney

Who says punk rockers can’t go legit and become upstanding leaders in the business and political world? For proof, spend a few minutes listening to our talk with old-school Austin punk vet Rick Carney, who in recent years had become a bigwig with the School of Rock corporation and is also chair of the Austin Music Commission.

Rick and OMB’s Ray Seggern go back to the good old days of The Back Room rock shows and both of them have taken the lessons learned from those scrappy, DIY days and applied them to their recent successes. Rick said School of Rock’s mission goes beyond merely teaching kids music lessons, and is much more focused on building relationships and learning how to work with the people around in a productive and functional way.

With franchises all over North America – and some of them owned by entrepreneurs who don’t have much formal music training themselves – he’s been heavily involved in developing a standard curriculum and training process for School of Rock instructors so students everywhere can be confident they’ll get a great experience.

That practice can be applied to any franchise model where owners with very different backgrounds are likely to need a prescribed business framework to build on. Along with that, he said each school needs to have its own culture that comes from the personal interactions between team members and customers.

On the public service side, Rick said he spent his first year as chair of the Music Commission learning how to listen and think broadly so that all viewpoints and objectives are considered around important issues like affordability for musicians and preservation of music venues.

“Being the chair has taught me you have to think outside your own world,” he said. “We want to be mindful of things outside the white world of Austin music, making sure all the voices get heard. When you deal with broader issues you have to make sure all ideas are thrown at the wall and see what shakes out.”