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Topic: Big Mistakes!
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 25, 2008 09:26AM)
I recently had dinner with several "agents" and talent coordinators from every venue from comedy clubs, to colleges, to resorts and cruise ships. We were talking about some serious common mistakes made by talent that automatically gets a NO from them.

I have to admit most of them fall into the catagory of "pet peeve" and are fairly individual, but the thought process is interesting none the less.

First off WORDS MEAN THINGS. While I can't spell worth a hoot, when I send promo to someone email or otherwise it is spellchecked. Most figure if you don't have the time to spend on spelling, what will the act be like.

Also it would be a good idea to find another word for "unique". One lady every time she saw the word unique and then saw something less than unique immediatly threw it out. I would not go that far, but the word had a meaning. With the internet today especially, it REALLY matters what you write as many shop online with hundreds of choices.

Also just because you buy the trick in the "comedy magic" section, does NOT make you hilarious or side splittingly funny. When you make claims like that it puts you up against actual comedy acts, and makes it tougher.

I have to say ONE area of concensus was the vaunted "letters of recomendation". Wow I have to say that the HUGE percentage never did more than glance at them. If you had a pile of them, it was universally not a great thing. One or two recent ones really does make a difference, but ten did not help, but hurt. Too much to read and past one or two, nobody really cared.

Keep in mind that the propegation of the "success peddlers" is not always a good thing. I mean they can tell who you have been reading, just by the way your package looks. They get hundreds of these things a week! When yours is "unique" and 20 others look almost the same, something is up.

One UNIVERSAL cool good thing was this, and it is the point of my post. SOMETHING has to make them want to pop the DVD in the player. What will do that? The idea of sending a "gift" of some sort REALLY works. Something cool, something a bit unique. This is NOT MY IDEA, but it is something that shows a bit of extra thought. The legendary "Bowling Ball" idea for example.

Actually the KISS idea REALLY took the day. As far as that goes they wanted to know what you could do as fast as you could communiate that fact. They are in a hurry too LOL.

None of these are actually UNIVERSAL except to the small group with which I was having a meal. None is an absolute truth but should be taken with a grain of salt, and simply be used to stimulate thought process with which a promo package is put together with. NOT as an attack by me, or as a LAW to which you should adhere. Simply passing along interesting tid bits.

Good luck, because the promo package is what many of us live or die by. It may as well be as good as possible.
Message: Posted by: Rory Raven (May 25, 2008 09:58AM)
Thanks, Danny. This is good info to bear in mind.

R
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 25, 2008 10:53AM)
Danny
It is very unmagician like to offer valuable advise for free. Why don't you write a book, and become a magic guru who sells advise to gullible magicians for big bucks? Are you buying that concept of magicians helping magicians?
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (May 25, 2008 11:29AM)
Danny,

Having been an agent and agency owner, nothing has changed! The most valued commodity to an agent is a talent buyer. Acts are the easy part to fill.

Simply put, agents aren't looking for solutions to problems they don't have.

Finding talent is rarely one of them.

What I really find is that too many entertainers do not know the difference between a personal manager and an agent. Often that is the difference between having agents and not having agents.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 25, 2008 11:42AM)
OK Bob
Does a small time performer like me really want a manager? I have lots of agencies that call me from time to time, but they all have just their own interest at heart. I realize that the kind of shows that you do you may need a manager, but us little guys can beat the bushes ourselves. What is your advise on that subject?
Message: Posted by: The Village Idiots (May 25, 2008 11:52AM)
Danny,

Is my bowling ball "legendary?" I have started with some new things but I don't want them to become legendary so I will share one that I have recently heard of. A guy mailed a shoe with it inscribed, "Trying to get my foot in the door." It sits next to my bowling ball in the Carnival office.

Good tips. Thanks for sharing.

Will
Message: Posted by: jl1717 (May 25, 2008 12:15PM)
Danny,

It seems like someone has stolen your password and logged in as you! LOL, just kidding, I really enjoyed that post and would love to hear more about some of the specific pieces agents/talent buyers pick out first in a promo kit.

My kit includes a DVD, one sheeter (I only offer 3 different programs), fee schedule (which is actually a bookmark type thing), a one-sheeter that has a client list and testimonials, and a photo page.

All professionally done and produced mind you. Is there any one piece that will help set one's promotional material apart from anyone else? I am thinking about making my promo pack into a folder type thing, the only examply I can think of as to what I'm talking about is like if you go to a car dealership and look at all the brochures (but they really aren't brochures) for each specific car. They are about 8.5" X 11" and stapled. Know what I'm talking about?

I always thought that would be a good idea instead of the normal white paper.

One thing I always liked to do was to send the package via Priority Mail. I always thought it showed the agent that they were that special and that they neeeded this right now!
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 25, 2008 12:46PM)
If you really want to be special you can get photo stamps from the post office. What can be more impressive than a first class stamp with your picture on it?

Photo stamps can be bought from the US postal service at http://www.stamps.com/
Message: Posted by: jl1717 (May 25, 2008 12:56PM)
Al,

That might be a bit overboard, but that would be kind of cool. I wonder what someone would actually think of when they see that. The first thought that popped into my mind when I saw your post was, "How egotistical."
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 25, 2008 01:56PM)
[quote]
On 2008-05-25 12:52, The Village Idiots wrote:
Danny,

Is my bowling ball "legendary?" Will
[/quote]

Yes sorry but it is.

Oh let me add some things.

Just because you see "money" involved in a venue does not mean you should charge out the yin yang for the show.

Know what you are worth yes but let me tell you the list of guys sitting at home who have priced themselvs out of too many markets is pretty long.

What I mean is for example most resort work. They in general have no need to have a $1500 a night act. They have people sitting facing a stage and need an act which can entertain them. They have no need to draw a crowd, no need to have a huge name and no need for "solutions" as Bob has said. They have a crowd which needs to have a good time for the next 45 to 60 minutes. The cruise ship industry is reaching this same conclusion.

So is $1500 for the show a good price? Yep. Is it a price you are going to get? Well probably not and certainly not for the long term. Just want everyone to think long term.

Wanting to do theater work now for example. Is your show worth $25 when gas costs so darn much? It is something to consider.

Lastly this is something that really is annoying. There is this new wave of agents hitting the scene. The type who are NOT out to screw anyone because they see how long term that is not good. So you may want to be on the lookout so you spot them. They are really fun to deal with.

I think they saw the Saturn comercials and saw the "no haggle" thing and went with it. They offer a price for a show, and it is a good price, but performers INSIST on posing with fictitious prices, and with things like that. They simply move on to the next name on the list believe me. Agents know EXACTLY what others pay, so when you pose, try to use a name they are not familiar with LOL.

See to me if you want to "haggle" it "implies" that you think I am trying to screw you with the lowest possible price, and take the rest and pocket the difference. This is absolutly NOT the way I, or anyone I know and deal with operates. This sets a HORRID tone for the "relationship".

Now I have to admit when I started, I did things like this, and I was guilty of things I have said above and really as I see 20 years later made a fool of myself. Also it is no shocker why the phone didn't ring nearly as much as I had hoped it would.

(As for that little shot about hacking in, I am going to let it pass for now. I am sure in your world that actually passes for wit. Have fun. This was intended to help)

I gotta say there HAS to be a way to bridge the gap between performer, and people who provide performers. This will make things easier on both sides!
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (May 25, 2008 02:17PM)
I got two major event planner/agents just by a simple postcard... :)
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 25, 2008 02:39PM)
Jl1717
I can tell you exactly what people say when they get a first class stamp with your picture on it. I sent my niece a birthday card with my stamp on it, she took it to school to show her teacher that her uncle has a stamp with his picture on it, and he is still alive.

When I send a promotional package, or a contract out I find that most people will call you up with lots of questions.
Message: Posted by: jl1717 (May 25, 2008 02:44PM)
Al,

Then that sounds like something that I'd be interested in. I got booked for a show in Vegas for a welding !@#ociation at the Flamingo because the lady googled magician and vegas and somehow I came up, she saw my client list and saw that I performed at her old high school. We talked for about 10 minutes and 7 of them was about how much she liked the school.

Weird things like that happen, so that leads me to believe that a simple stamp with a picture of my would generate some form of interest. Thanks Al!
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (May 25, 2008 02:47PM)
My magic Cafť avatar is the face of my stamp. They cost about $.75 to $1 each.

PS- I just sent you a PM about that rope trick you asked me about.
Message: Posted by: TomBoleware (May 25, 2008 02:54PM)
Just remember, not everyone will automatically notice the stamp.

However, including an extra ďMy StampĒ for them to use will get attention.

Tom
Message: Posted by: Christopher Starr (May 25, 2008 03:03PM)
Thanks for the post Danny. Great inside perspective.
Message: Posted by: The Village Idiots (May 25, 2008 04:07PM)
When I mail a client anything I put a stamp on every side of the box or envelope so that when they see it they know it's from me. I use a big stamp that says "DO NOT BOUNCE" on it. It sets my packages apart from all the others they get everyday. I just had a custom stamp made to do this, before I printed them on clear contact paper. I was talking to a friend that is a hypnotist and I suggested he have a bunch of hypno wheels printed as stickers to do the same with. Especially any client that gets 15 or more promo packs every day, and I have seen them, this makes yours noticed and helps establish you in their mind.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 25, 2008 05:09PM)
[quote]
On 2008-05-25 17:07, The Village Idiots wrote:
When I mail a client anything I put a stamp on every side of the box or envelope so that when they see it they know it's from me. I use a big stamp that says "DO NOT BOUNCE" on it. It sets my packages apart from all the others they get everyday. I just had a custom stamp made to do this, before I printed them on clear contact paper. I was talking to a friend that is a hypnotist and I suggested he have a bunch of hypno wheels printed as stickers to do the same with. Especially any client that gets 15 or more promo packs every day, and I have seen them, this makes yours noticed and helps establish you in their mind.
[/quote]

EXACTLY my point.

Give them a reason to pick up the package.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 25, 2008 08:28PM)
After they DO pick up the package it is back to basics. Well we never really left basics I guess LOL.

BUT the video must be strong.

One thing that everyone must try to keep up with. The DVD rules the day. If you have a VHS, send it to the Smithsonian or however it is spelled.

BEST thing you can do with the DVD is a few things. Some points which had almost complete agreement again were the following.

The DVD should have not only a few snippits of the show, 12 minutes at MOST, but also a FULL SHOW IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE. It is not a film school submission but rather they want to see how the audience is reacting to you. The edited version should be lit well and edited nice, but the full show you have some extra leeway with. It STILL should look as good as possible because it is easy and inexpensive to do so.

The thing that almost universally again got bad mentions, was the "testimonial in the middle of the video" nonsense that SO many seem to think is cool now. It is crazy, you are showcasting YOU and you have plenty of letters of recomendation, no need to do this. Heck just when they get behind you as a charector, and start to like what they are seeing, then you interupt it with some person in the hallway saying something you obviously told them to say.

Leave that nonsense to the letters. As I said the are HARDLY EVER READ anyhow! Let them SEE how great you are. Let them SEE how funny you are. I would be FAR MORE impressed with the audience doubled over laughing than with any number of hallway testimonials.
Message: Posted by: jl1717 (May 25, 2008 08:29PM)
I love the stamp ideas. I might have to invest in them.

Danny, what is the first thing talent buyers/agents pick up when they open a "traditional" promo kit? I ask this simply because you have extensive knowledge in this field and I would like some help...if you don't mind.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 25, 2008 08:59PM)
I don't mind. If we put away the sarcasam, backhand shots, and you being "sick of me thinking I am better than everyone else" I am HAPPY to help in any way I can.

Now that we are in the same mode, the DVD is "generally" the fist part of the kit.

Letters, are LAST on the list for many people. Even a resume is not a huge thing. What walks the walk and talks the talk is a great DVD. A DVD which has the edited few minutes AND a full show, exudes CONFIDENCE.

That is for me in general.

I have to say that finding talent is not tough.

Really though the thing that is TOUGH to communicate in a package but REALLY makes a difference is often overlooked by talent. The ability to be easily adaptable. The ability not to complain, the ability to be a guy who shows up does the show, takes the dough, and makes you look like a superstar to the client.

It is usually the guys who have long "technical riders" or "tech requirements" which I avoid LOL. A guy that can show up and do a show no matter WHAT happens, is a superstar in my book. A guy who nothing is ever a problem for is the idea.

Things in the letters about not so much how great the show is, but how EASY TO WORK WITH you are go a LONG way! A story about some adversity you managed to overcome and still do a steller show! THAT is the most important piece of paper, if you ask me. I want to know my client will be happy no matter what.

I guess that may be the most important thing. Knowing you will be low maintinence as a partner. And look at it honestly, when you use an agent, it IS a partnership.

If I can be more spacific, please don't hesitate to ask. I really think it will be best for both sides of the equasion, if this gap is closed.
Message: Posted by: RobertBloor (May 25, 2008 09:08PM)
[quote]Keep in mind that the propegation of the "success peddlers" is not always a good thing. I mean they can tell who you have been reading, just by the way your package looks.[/quote]

You mean to say the 16 page sales letter doesn't work as well as some would have you believe?

[quote]The thing that almost universally again got bad mentions, was the "testimonial in the middle of the video" nonsense that SO many seem to think is cool now. It is crazy, you are showcasting YOU and you have plenty of letters of recomendation, no need to do this. Heck just when they get behind you as a charector, and start to like what they are seeing, then you interupt it with some person in the hallway saying something you obviously told them to say.
[/quote]

Interesting. That I hadn't considered. Maybe I still have the success-virus stuck in me.

I think this is test market worthy.

Robert
Message: Posted by: The Village Idiots (May 25, 2008 10:57PM)
Danny,

Was the topic of websites brought up? I wonder how many potential clients visit a web site of a performer after viewing their promo. Of course, that is if they like it. I would think many would visit to see if it is as professional as their kit.

Will
Message: Posted by: The Village Idiots (May 25, 2008 11:00PM)
Oh, and I completely agree with Danny on the video format. Mine has a title page that states how long the video is with a "starts in 3,2,1" count down. Then Quick intro into a two minute montage then into a full length show. This is how I got the job that I have had for 6 years now. As the head of Carnival told me, anyone can look good in three minutes cut down. I want to see how you deal with hecklers, mistakes and the flow of your show. If I want I can always fast forward or rewind.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 26, 2008 07:39AM)
Oddly enough in our internet web driven world not as much as you would think.

Reason being is once they are on the web, (the buyer that is) the need for an agent really declines.

They DID like the sites with 'media' sections which posters, flyers, and so forth can be downloaded easily. Pretty much if they like the video, the "audition" stops LOL.

Oh and if you want your stuff thrown out immediatly, put in a phrase such as "we have a much better act now" or some such nonsense.

I guess the next tip will get everyone mad at me but it is true. Be realistic. Once you send a promo pack to an agent, it is how they will remember you. You are sort of "frozen in time" in their mind and when you are rejected, then for a LONG time there is no way they ever pop in a DVD you send again.

So work your way up!
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (May 26, 2008 09:22AM)
Danny,

You said finding a way to get them to put the DVD in the player is the real trick. Wouldnít it be easier in this day and age for the agent to type in a web site address to link to your online video. In other words, give the agent and incentive to do that, like $100 off any first time booking. Instruct the agent there will be a secret password at the end of the video that will qualify them to receive this discount. This would cut costs on DVDís and postage too. Just a thought.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 26, 2008 02:49PM)
Ken absolutly not.

See you are boiling it down to money. Anyone motivated only by money, is probably in the catagory Al is mentioning and worried about. And should be.

BUT if you want to build a lasting relationship with someone, you need to base it on something other than money.

Discounts of this nature also say far more about you than you think. Obviously you think he is motivated by money, he will !@#ume the same of you. No way to build a realationship you want to last.

If you have to cut costs of DVD's and postage, not a good sign either.
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (May 26, 2008 03:38PM)
You have very interesting thoughts Dan. I really appreciate you posts here.

Iím not sure what you mean when you say you have to base your relationship on something other than money. I thought thatís what a business relationship was all about. Sure you can disguise it as a friendship, but Iíve always thought if we were to be honest, that most of us are motivated by money.

I donít work with many agents. Sorry to say, most of the agents that Iíve worked with have no interest in a long term relationship, they just seem to want their percentage. One agent, I found out later, was charging more that double what I was getting paid.

Maybe youíre right. Maybe I have not had success with agents because I always tend to boil it down to money. If that is true, once again Dan, I appreciate you alerting me to this.
Message: Posted by: jl1717 (May 26, 2008 03:44PM)
Ken,

If one agent you were working with was charging the client DOUBLE and you were performing the show, it's time you double your prices...I think.

Does that make sense?

Sorry to get off topic
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 26, 2008 03:57PM)
Ken if it is all about money, and how much you get paid, it does not help an agent one bit.

Is it about money in the end? Of course it is. BUT it is about how you go about making the money. Most guys step over dollars to pick up dimes and it is what causes friction.

You can contact any of the acts we work with and they will tell you it is more than about money with us. We actually go out of our way to treat our talent like PEOPLE. We have taken hits when we did not have too in order to keep a long standing relationship with both client and talent. It should NEVER be only about money.

Is that a problem? I have no idea. I only know the way we, and those we work in close contact go about it. I am not sure "friendship" is the word but a good business relationship is what is needed. To do that you need to consider both sides of the equasion, and money is not involved.

Yes making money is the end result but think of it this way. Scoring at the end of the night is the goal of dating right? It is the way in which you go about it that makes the difference right? How annoying is it to the other party when that is the ONLY thing you concentrate on? Oh and I am pretty sure they know what you are after the whole time. Does not make for the most comfortable of times does it?

Now translate that to a business relationship. Not comfortable huh? That is not cool to me.
Message: Posted by: Ken Northridge (May 26, 2008 04:03PM)
I understand what you are saying now. Interesting analogy. :)
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (May 26, 2008 04:07PM)
I had to tone it down a bit LOL for the Magic Cafť' but it fits dead on.

Like I said I did things 20 years ago that I could KICK myself for now. It really is different than it seems.
Message: Posted by: Review King (May 31, 2008 02:47AM)
If you took Danny Doyle's posts and made them into a book, you'd have the real deal on the business side of things that would save folks headaches and heartaches.

Danny, this was a great thread and you helped so many of us. THANK YOU!
Message: Posted by: Christopher Starr (May 31, 2008 11:32PM)
...Ok maybe not ALL of Danny Doyle's posts! :lol:
Message: Posted by: Destiny (May 31, 2008 11:39PM)
Christopher

I think you could include all Danny's posts.

The ones I think you are referring to would fit into two chapters:

Dealing with noisy children

and

Cutting through the Crap.

Destiny