Breaking the Rules

The School of Rock is all about breaking rules. Dewey Finn breaks the rules of traditional education. He breaks the rules of school excursions. And he even breaks the rules of the educational board by posing as a substitute teacher. So it would make sense that the musical version of this popular movie breaks some of its own rules!

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Cast albums are a great driver of ticket sales. They provide something tangible for audiences to take home with them and relive their experience in the theatre – leading to a return visit and/or strong word of mouth to their friends and family. And they also allow potential audience members to test out a show and see if it is worth the expensive ticket price.

Both of these are crucial to the success of a show. You need your past audience members out in the world spreading the message and you need a way to get your potential audience members across the ticket purchasing line. So what has The School of Rock done?

It is tradition to release a cast album after the show has been playing for a little while. This allows for any changes that are made during the previews period to be incorporated in the album and it also allows the cast to spend more time finalising their vocal choreography. Which is great . . . If the aim of the album is for posterity.

But that is a rather tangential bonus. One which only pays dividends after the show has finished – and often doesn’t recoup its costs.

The main purpose of a cast album is marketing which is why The School of Rock has decided to release it before the show opens on Broadway. And the quicker you can get it out there, the more word of mouth is garnered and the more potential audience members are swept up in the music leading to more ticket sales!

Plus, if you look at it as marketing expenditure, all of a sudden this album recoups ten-fold due to a return on investment in ticket sales rather than physical album sales. Sounds like a win-win.

Dewey Finn broke the rules and it ended up pretty well for him. Just like this cast album decision will end up pretty well for the stage show. I wonder what other rules they might be breaking . . .

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