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John C
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On Apr 19, 2016, tiptophat wrote:
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Don't go. I enjoy the heck out of it all. Personally I go foe the atmosphere to see old and meet new friends. I'm not interested in Vegas shows. There's a rich subset of shows at mindvention. I love it.
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The response, don't go, you gotta love it and such a typical and expected response!!!!! I go "FOE the atmosphere", was that a Freudian slip? As I said new attendee's are not made to feel welcome. They continue to have the same stale agenda. By this I mean they start late some days and fill with panel discussions. Some time back the sponsors asked here on the Café would you like more lectures or panel discussions. Overwhelmingly the reply was more lectures. Then that failed to happen. The same lecturer's rotated in and out every couple years. Dealer room has REALLY fallen off over the last couple years. The number of dealers has dropped and the diversity is down. The lecturer's sell their wares after their lecture. Many times they sell out immediately because they only brought 10-20 of something while there are a 120+ attendee's. Talk about a cattle call!!!

If you have a lot of friends that go, its a time to get together as it would be anywhere, but it just does not compare to what it used to be and at other conventions plus so many scheduled lecturers cancel at the last minute. In the comments I originally made, I was hoping others would make suggestions to improve the situation. so that the sponsors would take to heart and make it better, instead of "don't go". For example, more diversity in lecturers, less panel discussions, more genuine lectures. Fill the schedule up, eliminate the gaps and fluff, let's have more meat on the plate, Again, I feel it is very sad to say that the best mentalism at mindvention occurs in the bar late at night and not at the lectures or convention ( I assume that is the "rich subset of shows" to which you are referring)as I know of no others. New people are not really made to feel welcome at the bar groups after hours because of the cliques, and I can say this as I was/am in one of those cliques. I tried to open ours up and was rebuffed by the others, " we don't want to share with THEM", he is new, we don't know him, sshhh here comes someone, what a joke. You have to be blind to not see that mindvention in my opinion is on a downward slide.

My first suggestions for improvement, fill up the dealer room, fill the schedule with lectures not panel discussions (attendance for these is always smaller, think that indicates less interest?)
Here is a novel idea, maybe take some of the fluff time and use it to divide the room into 5 or 6 areas and have mini sessions for an hour and a half where the lecturers rotate tables or attendee's rotate tables (kind of a teach a trick session). This would break the large group into small groups and randomly assign them so that as you said for the atmosphere to see old and meet new friends.


Haha,
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John C
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On Apr 19, 2016, JanForster wrote:
John, we see us... Smile Jan


Jan, I see you too understand the value of short posts. They are difficult to misunderstand and therefore hard to pick apart.

J
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jonnyboy
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I've shared some of my thoughts with Danny before by PM, after this and other MindVentions, but will do so here. For me, and I think many others, seeing lectures that are simply effects and then sales pitches is not what drives me to MindVention (I've attended the last six MindVentions). What I hope to get out of attending are different perspectives on improving my performing skills and my marketing skills. One can always purchase effects, and you don't need to go to MindVention to do that. In any "effects" lecture, what are most valuable to me are not the technical secrets, but the general and specific "tips" (for lack of a better word) from the lecturer explaining why they do something a certain way, and the artistic and technical choices they made for the effect. The effects themselves essentially go out of my head when I walk out of the lecture. In other words, effects lectures are best when they don't focus on the effects themselves, but on the thinking behind the effects.

I would prefer to see lectures that focus on how to be a better performer, For example, how to interact with spectators, all the way from choosing them, bringing them up on stage, handling difficult ones, controlling their movements, etc. Or, how to move onstage, as another example, and the differences between proper blocking and improper blocking. Information on becoming a better speaker. How light hearted one can be and still maintain the semblance of actual mentalism. There are a myriad of different aspects to being a performer that can be covered, and MindVention has had some of the greatest mentalists in the world in attendance. It would be wonderful to get their perspectives, although I would prefer that it not be done in a panel discussion, which generally leads to more confusion than clarity (e.g., the panel discussion on blindfolds, when one of the panelists roundly criticized their use).

As for effects, it would be better than simply knowing the secret to yet one more trick, to learn how to make the effects we already perform have a greater impact on our audience, whether it is emotional, amazement, or laughter. To understand the rhythms and flows of an effect. Whether and when a surprise ending is appropriate. On a more global level, how to structure an entire show, of different lengths. What makes an appropriate opener and an appropriate closer. You see discussions on the Café about some of these topics, but it would be great to learn from some of the worlds greatest mentalists in the relatively intimate atmosphere of MindVention. Just going over the topics from Ken Weber's book (maybe he would be persuaded to present, with examples) would be fabulous.

Marketing would be another area of great interest for most attendees, I think. How to use social media effectively (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat). How to use more traditional media. How to get on local television shows. How to properly get word of mouth. How to construct a great website.

Many of the attendees have not performed regularly in paid venues, but probably would like to. How to find such venues, how to advertise, how to build your brand. How to practice mentalism, which almost by definition requires a spectator. How to get the experience in performing mentalism for real people, which is a lot different of a challenge than practicing the pass in front of a mirror for 3 hours a day. How to go from being an amateur or sem-pro to becoming a professional.

Could some of this be done in smaller workshop-like groups? I understand that there may be physical limitations with respect to the facility, but maybe there is a way to do it. Getting into smaller groups at some points during the convention would have the salutary effect of producing an intimacy within that group, and breaking down some of the barriers that some feel exist between some of the attendees. In other words, one wouldn't have to feel like one has to drink at Jack's in order to get to know some of the better known mentalists. One very small example of this working in practice was when we broke into groups of four that did ideopathic chair moving during a lecture on seances or similar themed topic. It was fun and enjoyable meeting Alain Nu in my group, and he was surprised and delighted as we were in experiencing our chair moving seemingly on its own. Breaking into smaller groups for workshops would increase the intimacy and camaraderie of this event, and reap benefits for future MindVentions since more people would know each other.

As for the performances at night, personally, I want to really enjoy them. It is not easy getting to see some of these people perform, so having the chance to see them gathered in one place and performing is a rare opportunity. Unfortunately, for me, some of the evening shows have not met my admittedly high expectations. Maybe the performers aren't putting out their ""A" material in front of a group of mentalists they may feel are competitors. Maybe it is hard for me to separate my analyzing their performance and technique from their entertainment factor. (However, certain performers have been terrific, and very entertaining). There may be other reasons.

The dealers room must be a conundrum. It is something that I think so many of us enjoy, being able to see and play with some of the new and interesting tools from the likes of Promystic, Magikdata, etc., and meet with the inventors and innovators, like Craig Fillicetti, Fabrice Delaure, Cesar Alonso, Eric Samuels, Christopher Taylor, Mark Strivings, et al. It has to be worthwhile for a dealer to buy space to present their wares, but as Danny pointed out, this is a relatively small convention of under 150 attendees (although it sometimes seems like all 150 are at the Promystic table or whatever other table I want to look at then). So is it worth it for companies from Europe and Israel (like Labco, Cesaral, Paralabs, Lynx, Cobra, et al.) to spend the money on airfare, space in the dealer room, and all of the other expenses, to market to a fairly small group? Personally, I wish the answer was yes. It would be fantastic to see these products, and I purchased a very expensive product last year that I had been considering but never would have purchased except for having the chance to try it out in person. However, these developers are typically small businesses, and I understand any of them who decide not to take the chance on spending their time and money making the trip to Vegas to exhibit their wares before a smallish group. How to attract more dealers? Maybe have a dealer session, where each dealer gets a certain amount of time to talk about and demonstrate their products in front of the whole convention.

These suggestions are all being put forth in the spirit of wanting to make this gathering even better in the future, and I hope they are taken in the same spirit.

John
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Almost everything you've said John fall sinto two categories - going deeper into the performance aspects of mentalism, and the business side of mentlaism. I too feel this is what most want.

The problem with the hobbyists and enthusiasts Danny mentions, is many soon pass that level and then want more, they want to grow and evolve and it is again usually these two areas of most interest. Sure some new releases and effects are welcome, bit not as the feature or main draw lectures.

Also another aspect that I have not seen addresses is things have changed since MV debuted. Today we have Penguin lectures that shows many of these same performers doing their effects lectures. Yes, there are some interviews with some of their insights, but this was previously unavailable in previous years. MV was the only place to see these guys. Now these Penguin and At The Table lectures and other podcasts, etc. come into play and does directly affect MV. We don't need to see the same things offered at MV lecture that we just saw at a Penguin lecture.

Like the above, most I think must come to MV to advance their performing and operation as mentalists. You can't have a convention just for the casual interested guys (they don;t spend the money, aren't as serious and only have casual or surface interests), at least not the same convention, unless two different presentation area are offered at the same time, one perhaps on the business or deeper performance aspects of mentalism, while the hobbyists, enthusiasts that would not have an interest in such could have another lecture for the basics, foundational aspects, and effect-based lectures that those more experienced are beyond or less interested in.

Many DO want to go deeper into performance and as I believe the business of mentalism (no and NOT just marketing).

I said earlier having a mini-demo stage in the dealers room would be a great addition (also could be sponsorable as well). Dealers shouldn't have to fly to the US to be at MV. They should have US reps that could do this without the cost and trouble. Alakazam has opened a US branch, I would encourage (and almost expect) them to be there and to see them support U.S. mentalism as they have Euro-mentalism (there is a difference).

I agree about the evening performances often being less than expected with only the occasional fantastic performance. Non-A material is of course the likely culprit, which I never understood. I ft=it's performance only (without explanations or having to tip their goods) why can't it be their "A" material? I guess their concerned that the room is full of the most likely to steal or try to replicate their hard work.

The lineup still is an important and crucial element to MV. As stated almost unanimously it's been way to magic-y and less mentalism. This is solely as a result of the line-up and perhaps any standards, outlines or requirements they are expected to comply to. I think the last straight mentalist I remember seeing at MV was Marc Salem. Almost all others are mental magicians that more and more seem not to be able to separate the two disciplines. What kills me is they know it a mentalism convention yet still insist on doing magic (maybe with a mental theme). Seems to me people are screaming the most about this, but I fear they are screaming to magicians.

I also think if MV does get more into the business side of things this separation between magic and mentalisn will become more distinct as it is there that it is most prominent and matters the most.
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I agree that sometimes performers will shield there A material when performing for the group.

I disagree that the last pure mentalist at MV was Marc Salem two years ago. Last year we had Kennedy, Thommy Ten, Gerry McCambridge, Max Maven, Colin McLeod and the Jack, all of who to the best of my knowledge, promote themselves and perform as full time mentalists.

Another concern of mine is name recognition of the presenters for the performing and business side of mentalism. I have been in touch with several people who have very interesting presentations on a host of topics. Scripting, creating an act, booking you show in theaters, negotiating higher fees, using social media to promote and sell tickets to your show. What most don't have is a known name. Will this scare people away from attending if they don't know many of the presenters?

What should be the balance between business/better performance side balanced against effect lectures? Will know more after this year is done.

On a positive note, spoke with Banachek before he flew off to Germany for the Mind Summit, and he agreed to appear at MINDvention with the caveat that if his touring stage shows comes through he can back out. That's a name that all should be happy to see!
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Oh no, not Banachek again! And he's South African!! Smile
Mindpro
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On May 5, 2016, Danny Archer wrote:
Another concern of mine is name recognition of the presenters for the performing and business side of mentalism. I have been in touch with several people who have very interesting presentations on a host of topics. Scripting, creating an act, booking you show in theaters, negotiating higher fees, using social media to promote and sell tickets to your show. What most don't have is a known name. Will this scare people away from attending if they don't know many of the presenters?

What should be the balance between business/better performance side balanced against effect lectures? Will know more after this year is done.



Some great points Danny. To me, scripting, creating an act, stagecraft, sound, microphones and sound systems and all of these related topics are not the business side of things, they are still the performance side, just a bit deeper and more in-depth than just effects. I do think how to properly craft and stage a performance is of great importance and would also be a welcome addition to MV. I think one of the problems many guys have, especially newbies or hobbyists, is they buy the lecture notes or the marketed effect, and when they attempt to perform it, they do not get the same results, response or impact. It is because of just this reason. They haven't created the full performance with all of the necessary elements, they just execute the effect. So, yes I agree more in-depth levels about performing and creating an act or show would also be a great and welcome addition.

However, as far as the business side of things, you are correct on several things. First, as seen daily here on the Café, there is some terrible advice on the business side of things. The key here is to separate the good from the bad and the ugly. Rehashed old Dan Kennedy or Dave Dee stuff for magicians is not what is needed. It's already been out there, tried and familiar to most who already have an interest in it.

I don't think there is a lot of contemporary entertainment business material available, which continues to be supported each day with nearly everyone I talk to coach, train or consult. Stay away from the "marketing for magicians" type of stuff or specialty materials "direct marketing for magicians." You need real business advice specifically for entertainers (not just niche content as for magician.) We must get away form this belief of what you need is first a good show, then secondly to market it. There is an entire (crucial) area between the two of business operations, foundational elements, business systems and having all of the other aspects in place for the required business operations. Otherwise what happens, is what we see here daily, performers spend time, effort and money on trying to generate leads, then only close or convert around 20-25%, usually based on being the best priced, because they do not have the elements and systems in place to know how to concert 60, 70% or more and have all of the tools in place to properly do this. For most, the foundational elements of entertainment business are all missing. These need to be in place first, before even beginning to look at certain performance markets (working cruise ships, fairs & festivals, self-produced two and four wall shows, working with agents & agencies, etc.)


These performers are always chasing after their next booking. Different business models should be offered, presented and discussed. This get a show, market it and constantly chase after your next booking is a default business model that most do because they don't know of othrr options, choices and possibilities. Again, foundational information first.

The point is there is much (actually the majority) in between the show and marketing, that most don't understand, are missing and causing 90% of their setbacks, disappointments and failures. Now do most of the gurus tell you this? No. They just want to push marketing courses or specialty, niche materials.

Also there are an entire wave of guys that do something once and are now releasing books and courses on this stuff as some kind of an authority. While I won't name names, I wouldn't want to appear with or near these guys because they are peddling non-effective information not based on long-term experience or results. So separating the real and good from the current wave of anyone can release their own junk not even based on concrete experience and results would be of great concern.

Also just like you have to carefully consider which performers/lectures go together and which would not be a good match, I believe the same must be done on the business side as well. Most that specialize in entertainment business are not known names, and there are so few (which is why got into this area myself because so little of the proper information was available and still isn't and I was so tired of performers coming to me all the time asking me how I do it) that getting the right lineup is important. There is no point on offering advanced or specialized guys speaking on certain topics if the basics and foundational aspects are not in place. Look at most guys websites, they are all over the place. They haven't even addressed or answered some of the most basic foundational questions pertaining to their business No goals in place, no business plan, no outline or overview of what they are attempting to do, where they're going, how far they've come and problems they are/may incur. No, its just create a show, and then start throwing stuff out there and lets see what sticks or gets a response. How guys (and girls) approach entertainment business is the first step.

You mentioned negotiating higher fees. Most entertainers don't really even know how to price or package themselves. Negotiating fees is something that should again come after the basics are in place. In reality, if the proper foundational elements and aspects are in place, much of the pricing issues take care of themselves. Negotiations don't come into play nearly as much, because your predetermined decisions and positioning will handle this. You then learn how and when to increase or change your pricing. Like I say, so much is missing and not offering this, will just set many up for failure or disappointment, and keep everybody doing the same thing as others have been doing for years with only varying levels of success or satisfaction.


Most won't be known names. I would think you want content, not necessarily names. Most agents, producers, promoters, coaches, etc. are not known names to the masses in the community. In their areas of specialty or expertise they may be very well known. No different than performers. Very few outside our industry know Richard Osterlind, Bob Cassidy or Larry Becker, but those in the industry would consider them top stars or even legends. I wouldn't get hung up an name recognition as much as I would their proper and applicable quality content. That should be what is most important.

As far as how many, I would have 2, 3 or maybe 4 out of your dozen or so sessions, I'm guessing. Again, I think the exact topic and quality is more important than the number. I'd rather see one or two great and effective presentations than four only so-so ones. I do think who is important and that the ones you do have work congruently and well with each other. Although I'm not a big fan of panels this is an area they may actually be more effective and productive.

Where your performers and performance material lectures may be based on name recognition and drawing appeal, I think pertaining to the business aspects it is more topic and content-driven.

Just a few thoughts based on your post.
George Hunter
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In my experience:

1) Last year's Mindvention was probably the least effective of the five I have attended, but still worthwhile, and I understand things can fluctuate. I think Danny is taking the feedback seriously.

2. The Palace Station is fully adequate for our needs, and the room prices are likely as reasonable as we'd find in Las Vegas.

3. I am aware of one gap in the dealer room. Guys go to Mindvention to check out some of the products they have heard about but want to see demonstrated. But most of the dealers were promoting their own products. Two years ago, SEO magic had a booth, and they could demo MANY of the things we had heard about. Last year, there was no generalist shop like SEO, and that was a loss that at least several guys commented about.

Still looking forward to this Fall's conference.

George
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I agree with Mindpro that business sessions should be presented by professionals in the business of selling and marketing performances. Fundamental principles and best practices come first the everything else.
John
Jeff Fein
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I was the new guy several years ago and I felt very welcomes by everyone, even the "clichés", some of whom have become friends.
Danny Archer
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Mindpro is now booked to lecture at MINDvention and he will present a workshop as well.
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