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Topic: Skipping the Bottom Rungs and Going Straight for High-Paying Corporate Gigs
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Sep 28, 2013 02:51AM)
This is kind of a theoretical question, although I'm about 95% sure I'm going ahead with it (and I *think* this is the right spot for it) so I'd appreciate any thoughts on the subject.

When you start performing, typically you "pay your dues" and work your way up the ladder and eventually get bigger, better paying shows (assuming you do good work). But is there anybody here who skipped the bottom half of the ladder and went straight to the big money gigs? That's what I'm planning on doing.

Technically I'm not starting from scratch because I dropped out of school after the 8th grade and started performing full time until I was in my early 20s and then quit. It's now been probably 25 years since my last professional show -- so while I have a background in performing, I have nothing recent to point to as "proof" I know what I'm doing.

I'm working on putting my act together right now. I know I'll need to perform it in front of real people for x times to knock the rust off my joints and to solidify my choice of effects. I'm thinking of offering my act to non-profits in exchange for testimonials.

So I have two main questions right now:

1. Do you have any ideas on good ways to get testimonials in a scheme like this? Are non-profits the way to go? Something else?

2. Have you, or anyone else you know, skipped to the head of the line? What words of advice would you give someone who's attempting to do that?

Thanks.

Jay
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (Sep 28, 2013 05:40AM)
Define "high paying corporate gig" please. "Corporate gigs" as a category have their own ladder with many rungs (some charge $300 and others $300,000 for example). Exactly how ambitious are you talking here?

Instead of the "skipping to the head of the line" (sounds like trying to cheat your way to success), why don't you aim for accelerated career advancement based upon your reputation, word of mouth, and strong skills? A talented performer doesn't stay unnoticed for long and the free market is pretty good at adjusting if you charge too low/high. No doubt you will find work at a level that you are currently qualified for (whatever that may be - high, low, or somewhere in-between).

My opinion: go for whatever you want but, ultimately, there is a progression needed to build yourself up - even if you happen to "climb" quickly based upon the results you produce at "lower rungs" (trying to use your terminology).
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Sep 28, 2013 07:55AM)
Many have tried this. Next you will be here selling a course on how to do it.

What could possibly go wrong?
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 28, 2013 08:43AM)
There is typically not just a progression as Scott mentioned but also the experience and education that goes along with the level of progression and growth that serve a purpose that will be skipped if doing it in the way you described.

We once had a very young performer, I think maybe 23-24 years old who was seeking representation from our agency. His family was very wealthy and well-known in our state. Very nice people. The father had spent tens of thousands of dollars for some of the best promotional materials I've ever seen - a five camera studio and location shoot, promotional photos from Paul Natkin and Anne Leibowicz (of Rolling Stone fame), beautifully printed and gold embossed printing on deep burgundy gloss folder, a fantastic business card and the excellent promotional pages. Absolutely stunning for the time period in the early 1980's. He had testimonials from Chicago's Mayor Richard Daly, comedian Steve Allen and two U.S. Presidents (Carter & Ford). This thing couldn't help but get my attention. He also had two versions of his promo materials including an a completely separate AF set as well.

It came accompanied with a letter offering a willingness to pay a 30% booking commission which was far above the standard 15-20% at the time. They wanted to target only Fortune 200 companies. They had one of the best business plans and marketing strategies I'd ever seen at that time. It too skipped the normal progression.

We were both very excited. We met the kid and his father in our office. We were able to book the kid on five bookings in the first month. About six weeks later the first booking arrived from one of our very top clients. It was terrible. Embarrassing. He was a nice kid, carried himself well, but just simply didn't have the performing experience, no literal experience in any aspects of performing (staging, blocking, stagecraft, audience management, relatability, believability, no performer's persona which comes from regular and continuous performance experience, and just an unnatural and inexperienced aspect in almost every area of his performance and persona on and off stage.

He became one of the very first people I was ever asked to coach. I was paid handsomely. While the money was nice, the real reason I accepted the task was because I had him booked for four other of our best corporate clients over the next three months and I could see how this kid could cost me tens of thousands to maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business if he caused us to lose these top clients. While we were able to help him improve, I would by no means say he was ever a good performer. It just created a terrible situation with horrible ramification (stories for another day).

The bottom line is "paying your dues" is not a bad thing like many people want to think. There are MANY benefits that come from this, only one being experience - a place to fail, be bad, learn, grow, evolve, etc. To demand high fees has to be warranted and substantiated.

Can your idea be done? Probably. Is it a wise choice and a choice without consequence? No not at all. Performers have a hard enough time working the natural progression, your idea would become even harder. There are levels of expectation from an artist performing on the upper levels. These expectations usually come as a result of the progression, experience and evolvment.

I guess if you had a lot of money, hired a coach, mentor and great creative team, it could be done. You would learn the "hows" but you can't teach the "whys" - levels of experience that get one to that level. Very difficult indeed.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Sep 28, 2013 08:46AM)
Jay -
The quickest way to make the transition you are talking about is to:

A.) Have a huge budget to work with. You will need professional promotional materials, photos, web site, web copy, etc. The top grossing acts aren't making them on their home computers - they job this stuff out to pros. Likewise, marketing and advertising will cost you - as an unknown, it will take capital to gain traction in the market.

B.) Be mentored by someone who has actually achieved the results you want and has the track record to prove they have been in business for more than 15 years AT that level. (Which will remove the fly by night gurus.) Chances are this will cost you too - and it will be worth every penny if you find the right person with the right track record. Do your research before reaching out because you will get plenty of people who "want to help you" for a fee.

Having a honed act and some references is only one small part of the puzzle. High paying corporate dates don't hire your act. They hire someone who can provide a solution. You have to know going in that you can nail it or someone's job (not yours) is at stake. The upper end of the market is extremely service oriented, which most acts just don't understand. Reaching these planners and building the trust for them to request your services at the fees you desire is not a short term thing. Building relationships in the market is not a short term thing. High paying corporate dates don't just happen because you tell people you want a lot of money - you have to prove you are delivering at every phase of the relationship from introduction to follow-up.

Oh - and seeing Mindpro's post made me remember something Jay Johnson told me:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SkkHqD-Q0Q
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (Sep 28, 2013 09:29AM)
Listen to the gentlemen above. That advice is worth $1000's.
Message: Posted by: charliecheckers (Sep 28, 2013 11:34AM)
I would think testimonials from anyone that they do not personally know would be virtually meaningless. Even at my level, most of my higher paying gigs come from those who have seen my show and then either directly hire me or know the person who hires and have them contact me.

With Mindpro's example, even with all the money and top notch promo material, it sounds like the performer needed the recommendation of someone like Mindpro, who the client trusted.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 28, 2013 11:38AM)
Lunatik and Danny have had me laughing out loud. Hilarious!

Good to see we're all still here just waiting for the next BB mention. I'm beginning to think some have pre-written lines and responses just waiting for when it occurs.
Message: Posted by: Paddy (Sep 28, 2013 02:02PM)
Jay, yes I got carried away with the BB sideline but truthfully you are asking for "blue Sky" dreams. The ONLY way to "the big money" is to work your *** off making the "small money" until you break into the corporate markets. Every one of us working as full time entertainers will tell you it takes a lot of work to be successful. Even today I have yet to put in a "40 hour week." Try 60 to 80 hours a week. Writing new shows, practising, rehearsing, on the phone selling my show, on the road seeing prospective clients and performing, and PAPERWORK! Yep thanks to the U.S. Government we have to have documentation of our expenses and income.

But it is worth every minute of it.
Message: Posted by: Dimitri Mystery Artist (Sep 28, 2013 02:21PM)
A shortcut is the longest way to get from point A to point B
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Sep 28, 2013 04:36PM)
Okay, I feel kind of stupid because I wasn't at ALL specific in my initial post. "Big money" is a relative term and what's big money for one is chump change for another. My target goal is mid-4 figures. I also don't intend to work outside my state.

I also won't be attempting to "buy my way in" because I don't have that kind of money. And I'm not actually skipping any of the steps -- it's just that there was a 25 year gap between the last rung and the next rung -- I'm just trying to figure out if I can NOT slip back down to the bottom before starting to climb again.

I'm not starting from scratch -- beside making my living for at least 5 years performing, I spent 6 years in radio, a couple years leading a church worship band, and have been in multiple community theatre productions.

Thanks to tacrowl and Mindpro for the good info. And Scott Burton, maybe "accelerated career advancement" is a better way to look at what I'd like to do.

Jay
Message: Posted by: misterillusion (Sep 28, 2013 06:04PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-28 09:43, Mindpro wrote:
There is typically not just a progression as Scott mentioned but also the experience and education that goes along with the level of progression and growth that serve a purpose that will be skipped if doing it in the way you described.

We once had a very young performer, I think maybe 23-24 years old who was seeking representation from our agency. His family was very wealthy and well-known in our state. Very nice people. The father had spent tens of thousands of dollars for some of the best promotional materials I've ever seen - a five camera studio and location shoot, promotional photos from Paul Natkin and Anne Leibowicz (of Rolling Stone fame), beautifully printed and gold embossed printing on deep burgundy gloss folder, a fantastic business card and the excellent promotional pages. Absolutely stunning for the time period in the early 1980's. He had testimonials from Chicago's Mayor Richard Daly, comedian Steve Allen and two U.S. Presidents (Carter & Ford). This thing couldn't help but get my attention. He also had two versions of his promo materials including an a completely separate AF set as well.

It came accompanied with a letter offering a willingness to pay a 30% booking commission which was far above the standard 15-20% at the time. They wanted to target only Fortune 200 companies. They had one of the best business plans and marketing strategies I'd ever seen at that time. It too skipped the normal progression.

We were both very excited. We met the kid and his father in our office. We were able to book the kid on five bookings in the first month. About six weeks later the first booking arrived from one of our very top clients. It was terrible. Embarrassing. He was a nice kid, carried himself well, but just simply didn't have the performing experience, no literal experience in any aspects of performing (staging, blocking, stagecraft, audience management, relatability, believability, no performer's persona which comes from regular and continuous performance experience, and just an unnatural and inexperienced aspect in almost every area of his performance and persona on and off stage.

He became one of the very first people I was ever asked to coach. I was paid handsomely. While the money was nice, the real reason I accepted the task was because I had him booked for four other of our best corporate clients over the next three months and I could see how this kid could cost me tens of thousands to maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business if he caused us to lose these top clients. While we were able to help him improve, I would by no means say he was ever a good performer. It just created a terrible situation with horrible ramification (stories for another day).

The bottom line is "paying your dues" is not a bad thing like many people want to think. There are MANY benefits that come from this, only one being experience - a place to fail, be bad, learn, grow, evolve, etc. To demand high fees has to be warranted and substantiated.

Can your idea be done? Probably. Is it a wise choice and a choice without consequence? No not at all. Performers have a hard enough time working the natural progression, your idea would become even harder. There are levels of expectation from an artist performing on the upper levels. These expectations usually come as a result of the progression, experience and evolvment.

I guess if you had a lot of money, hired a coach, mentor and great creative team, it could be done. You would learn the "hows" but you can't teach the "whys" - levels of experience that get one to that level. Very difficult indeed.
[/quote]

This is some of the best advice I have read on the Café in a long long time. I am finding out what the "rungs" are like first hand. As a full timer myself I am just now breaking into the levels I have wanted for some time. I do not believe I could have successfully used any kind of short cut to get to this point.

--Charlie
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Sep 28, 2013 06:49PM)
5 years is not really that much experience.

You want to make money and stay at home and skip all the learning curve.

If there was such a formula don't you think everyone would be using it?
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Sep 28, 2013 07:03PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-28 19:49, Dannydoyle wrote:
5 years is not really that much experience.

You want to make money and stay at home and skip all the learning curve.

If there was such a formula don't you think everyone would be using it?
[/quote]

Wasn't 5 years total, it was five years after moving out on my own where I was paying all my own bills. Started doing magic in grade 5 then getting paid for parties, schools, fairs, etc., in my mid teens. My point was I'm quite happy on stage, I can work an audience.

Forget how old you are now -- if you stopped performing for 25 years and then started up again, do you think the climb back to where you are now would take as long as it did initially?

Jay
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 28, 2013 08:21PM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-28 17:36, Jay Jennings wrote:
My target goal is mid-4 figures. I also don't inten

And I'm not actually skipping any of the steps -- it's just that there was a 25 year gap between the last rung and the next rung -- I'm just trying to figure out if I can NOT slip back down to the bottom before starting to climb again.

I'm not starting from scratch

Jay

[/quote]

While I see your perspective, I must say I disagree with most of your perceptions. 5 years is not all that much experience in the first place unless you were performing full-time a couple of shows a day, five or six days a week. I'm guessing you did not or you would have probably been more active all along.

Much as changed in 25 years. Almost every market has changed, they way entertainment business operates, the way entertainment is marketed and sold, the way customers and clients approach purchasing and shopping for entertainment and even the performances themselves and expectations in many markets has changed greatly. Many of us here have been doing this for over 25 years and can speak first hand of the differences.

I also think it unrealistic to even think you can simply just pickup where you left off 25 years ago. Then a mid-4 figures is a quite advanced level that requires far more understanding, market experience and level of performance than I'm sure you enjoyed 25 years ago. Even if not, this level of performing and business operation is much more advanced and evolved than ever before. Many of the things that impact this were not even created 25 years ago.

In many ways, you are starting from scratch. Performing at this level has extremely little to do with your performance material and has much do with all of the other aspects and components. It's also extremely impractical to think you are going to earn mid-4 figures as a national performer, let alone a local performer. Unless you are in LA and maybe New York, it would still be hard to do this in just your home state expecting to perform regularly.
Message: Posted by: magicofCurtis (Sep 28, 2013 09:12PM)
Midpro and Scott stated some very valid points.

Besides those comments.

Here is a plan of action:
I would suggest doing a few shows to freshen your act and skills up a bit.
Easy to get performance for chamber of commerce events and fund raisers (which could be a good current resume builder)

Utilize your old quotes from clients and older promo photos... BUT freshen it up as you go.
It is simple to get a current head shot, start creating new photo and news quotes from clients.

I would suggest playing on the fact- POOF You vanished for xx years from magic to star on xxx radio station and now magically appearing for corporate events.
Or, if your radio show was comical -- Play on that concept--- Talk show host for xxx now provides comedy magic...
Get the concept?

Be prepared to spend money on a nice website, printed material and start producing a quality DVD.

Go to some chamber mixers and find a business coach to start creating your material. So it will look high end.

HMMM.... Other magicians should do this as well! lol

Cheers
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Sep 28, 2013 10:59PM)
MindPro, thanks for that info. Sure, my perceptions and ideas are probably unrealistic -- which is why I posted here. I figured I'd get some snark but also thought I'd get info from people with more current information than I have. I appreciate the way you schooled me. :)

Curtis, thanks for the plan of action. I was thinking Chambers of Commerce might be a good stepping stone once I've shaken off the rust.

Jay
Message: Posted by: MickNZ (Sep 29, 2013 12:01AM)
What you're speaking about was popularised as, if I'm remembering correctly, the Leapfrog Theory in "Winning Through Intimidation" by real estate agent Robert Ringer, which was a classic business book some decades ago.

While it certainly does have applications business-wise for performing shows for a living, the stage-time and experience needed for the performance side of a magic business is much harder to "fake" than promo material is.

Do you have any video footage of your act? Assuming you do have an act of course :)
Message: Posted by: Eldon (Sep 29, 2013 01:01AM)
I pretty much agree with what everyone is telling you. That being said, I have a close friend that did go directly to the top and started out doing four figure shows. It worked for him he is doing very well, so it is possible.
Message: Posted by: lunatik (Sep 30, 2013 08:17AM)
I would say that is NOT the norm and most should never get their hopes up.
Message: Posted by: Eldon (Sep 30, 2013 10:10AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-30 09:17, lunatik wrote:
I would say that is NOT the norm and most should never get their hopes up.
[/quote]
Agreed.
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Sep 30, 2013 09:06PM)
Thanks for all the help. As far as the money aspect goes, I was "guessing" at what good acts get in my neck of the woods. When I quit 25 years ago I was making $800-$1200 for company parties, picnics, etc., so I figured a similar show should be up in the mid-4 figures now. (I was *assuming*, with everything that includes.) But from what I've been able to discover in the last couple days, $1500ish is probably the going rate now for something like that.

Of course, I plan on being better than I was back then, but still, my perceptions were warped at least a bit.

Someone who asked about a video -- I have nothing from the olden days (and while video cameras weren't ubiquitous like they are now, I can't believe I didn't rent one at least once) and I'm still working on putting things together, so nothing current. But when I do have something together I'll update this thread.

Jay
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Sep 30, 2013 11:14PM)
Wow.
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Sep 30, 2013 11:31PM)
Obviously not a mentalist because I'm not picking up the target of the Wow.

Jay
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Oct 1, 2013 06:08AM)
Jay -
You mentioned "the going rate". That is a limiting belief for many variety acts. Based on my experience, there is no "going rate" because every company is different. Each event has a desired result, and the value the company places on those results vary.

You assumed - and assumptions are not a good way to plan if you intend to run a successful business. Learn everything you can about a market before you try to enter it blindly. Otherwise your shortcut could set you back years.
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Oct 1, 2013 11:08AM)
Hi, Jay...

Initially, I ignored this thread because I thought it was someone flaming. When I read it, I thought what Danny did: "Wow."

I'm not speaking for Danny -- who is generally a little more verbose...but I have to admit I've never seen you and am not familiar with your work. I don't see where it is impossible to pick up where you left off...but at best it seems to be to be like jumping into a sports car that has been sitting unused for years and expecting to go zero to 60. It's possible, I guess.

You've already thought in terms of doing some shows just to shake the rust off. I think that's a great idea. I get rusty if I go a couple of weeks without a show. I can't imagine how difficult it would be if I went years without performing. I think there's a muscle that gets built up the more shows you perform...and that deflates fairly rapidly if you don't get in front of an audience.

At the bare minimum you need absolutely perfect marketing materials: a video, a complete package. You need an act that is polished and fresh. Ideally you need representation so you can crack the corporate level you're looking for...and you need to deliver on every single promise to get repeat bookings. Your whole on stage package has to be white hot.

If you go before you're ready, you're shooting yourself in the foot.

I'd set a plan if I were you: a specific period of time for you to get to where you're going and the specific steps you're going to take to get there.

I wish you all the best. Keep us posted. I'm interested to know how you make out.

David
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Oct 1, 2013 11:30AM)
[quote]
On 2013-10-01 12:08, David Thiel wrote:
At the bare minimum you need absolutely perfect marketing materials: a video, a complete package. You need an act that is polished and fresh. Ideally you need representation so you can crack the corporate level you're looking for...and you need to deliver on every single promise to get repeat bookings. Your whole on stage package has to be white hot.
David
[/quote]
Great point. Probably more than anything performance-related (except maybe for audience's attention spans) to me one of the things that has changed the most is how people buy entertainment and how entertainment is marketed and operates as a business. This includes promotional materials.

I'd rather not comment on David's built up muscle.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 1, 2013 11:49AM)
Wow= the two above posts.

In general I am much more verbose. But what you plan has about a 95% chance of absolute failure. But you have said you have decided to do it so nothing anyone says to help you is pointless.

You have your answer and then you ask your questions and do your research.


Performing in you mid 20s as a kid, and make no mistake you were, does not translate. Especially since the world.has changed in 25 years. The idea is you grow into your performance. If you think you can do your same show from 25 years ago and it will fly well I can direct you to a few Hollywood movies to show you what will happen.

You have almost no experience and what you do have is so old it is worthless. Radio experience and church worship bands not withstanding. Experience from when you were 8 is hard to count.

I am afraid you may lose money at an impressive rate. The only thing you might have going for you is living in a state where there might be very little competition.

Good luck. I hope you blow the doors off and explode into a huge success. I hope you can come back and tell me how full of crap I was. I hope you have more mid four figure jobs than you can handle in a weeks time. I seriously do.

Please come back and update me as to how wrong I as. I sincerly hope you do. It will be a pleasure to be wrong.
Message: Posted by: Scott Burton (Oct 1, 2013 12:14PM)
Your assessment is correct I believe Danny.

I think there are ways of accelerating a targeted career direction. Specifically, I mean that someone who is smart, talented, business minded, and truly focused and determined could take years off when one has a clear vision. I mean to say that you could take a 10 year development down to 3 or 4 years perhaps (just random numbers but I think you get the point).

But to skip entire levels without paying some amount of "dues" is wishful thinking. Risky too. There is value in building a base to work from.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 1, 2013 12:30PM)
Mindpro posted while I was. I meant wow = the 3 above posts.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Oct 1, 2013 01:12PM)
[quote]
On 2013-10-01 13:30, Dannydoyle wrote:
Mindpro posted while I was. I meant wow = the 3 above posts.
[/quote]
You gotta be quicker on the draw to keep up with me
[quote]
On 2013-10-01 13:14, Scott Burton wrote:
Your assessment is correct I believe Danny.

I think there are ways of accelerating a targeted career direction. Specifically, I mean that someone who is smart, talented, business minded, and truly focused and determined could take years off when one has a clear vision. I mean to say that you could take a 10 year development down to 3 or 4 years perhaps (just random numbers but I think you get the point).

But to skip entire levels without paying some amount of "dues" is wishful thinking. Risky too. There is value in building a base to work from.
[/quote]
I agree. Another way to do exactly what Scott is referring to is pay for a mentor. One on one development from someone who has done or is doing what you want at the level you desire to me is the absolute best investment in both time and money tat one can make, and as far as I know about the only true legitimate way to take serious time off the learning curve, but even then you still have to allow time practice and apply what you are learning, allow it to grow, become established and become polished to even be considered as a performer on an advance level. You must also invest in yourself and your business, and like most successful investments it takes time to mature.

To me this is one of the biggest misperceptions and disillusions with performers, and especially with magicians (all that have been doing magic since they were 5 years old - don't even get me started on this disillusion) is they have a terrible time being real and honest with themselves about the true level at which they are truly at. Most seem to think they are more advanced than they are in reality. They watch another performer or someone on a t.v. show and truly think to themselves "I can do better than that" or "I am at least that good." Most are not.
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Oct 1, 2013 03:49PM)
Thanks for the further feedback.

Jay

[EDIT: No way to delete a post?]
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Oct 8, 2013 09:46AM)
If you do $300 shows you will have a lot more opportunities that if you only want to do $1,000 jobs. Without any previous experience doing $1,000 jobs why would anyone want you??????

When mom's call me up to do a kids birthday party they want to know all about me, so why would a corporate events coordinator do any less with you?????

Don't give up your day job just yet.
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Oct 8, 2013 04:17PM)
I have experience doing $1,000 jobs. 25-30 years ago I was getting $800-$1200 for corporate shows. (Not always that high, but often enough that it wasn't rare.)

And I understand the first new paying show (probably) won't be at the $1,000+ level. (Nor the second, or third, or...)

I'm not planning on giving up my day job anyway -- I'm self-employed, so that part's really easy. ;)

My only concern with doing $300 shows is then you're seen as a $300 act. How do you then make the leap to being seen as a $1,500 act in a local area? I'm thinking I'd rather do two $1,500 shows than ten $300 shows. More exposure for the latter, but scarcity with the former could be a selling point (I think).

Jay
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 8, 2013 06:19PM)
What you can not skip is experience. Sorry. Your experience is very limited and dated.

You are probably not a $1,500 act and won't be by doing a couple shows a month.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Oct 9, 2013 08:29AM)
I would like to do 8 weeks in Vegas a year and go on vacation for the remaining 44 weeks, but that is not going to happen. LOL
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Oct 9, 2013 08:45AM)
Jay -
Your thinking of the fee jump is flawed. You can't be worth a fee if your act is not ready. (Even if you feel it may be - at the fees you want, you have to be certain.)

Taking shows that pay less will allow you to hone the material. For example, I have done paid street for the past four or five summers. Three to four sets a night for several weeks straight allow me to stay sharp in a way that two to five shows a month will not. Granted, the two shows pay much more - and the profit margin is greater - but without those street performances, my quality slips - and I notice it even when the audience doesn't.

So how can I justify paid street vs. high dollar corporate events? I don't have to. They are two completely different beasts. Your fee justification is based on the show. Corporate performances are more about service. And the show quality is an expected mandatory.
Tom
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Oct 9, 2013 05:24PM)
Tom,

[quote]They are two completely different beasts.[/quote]

Okay, that makes sense, you're not doing [b]corporate[/b] events for less money.

Thanks.

Jay
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 9, 2013 05:37PM)
Even if he was it is not relevant.
Message: Posted by: Jay Jennings (Oct 9, 2013 05:43PM)
[quote]
On 2013-10-09 18:37, Dannydoyle wrote:
Even if he was it is not relevant.
[/quote]
Why is that?

Jay
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 9, 2013 06:44PM)
What you charge one client has nothing to do with what you charge another.
Message: Posted by: BrianMillerMagic (Oct 12, 2013 12:48PM)
I'm kind of offended that someone even believes there's a way to skip the painful learning process, developing an act, materials, making connections, getting repeat clients, and gradually growing the business.

I'm still in the early stage of my career, and the very guys in this thread have been helping me do it for almost 8 years. They watched and helped me transition from a teen with ambition to a young adult with potential to a full time pro traveling and doing 250+ dates/year. Many of my dates are at the price range you're describing (and higher), but still lots of them aren't. They've watched me succeed tremendously and fail equally so. All of it was crucial.

If you've got a way to skip all that (and everything that lies ahead), you let me know.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Oct 12, 2013 12:54PM)
I have always learned more from failure than success.
Message: Posted by: JoshLondonMagic (Oct 12, 2013 01:05PM)
[quote]
On 2013-10-12 13:48, BrianMillerMagic wrote:
I'm kind of offended that someone even believes there's a way to skip the painful learning process, developing an act, materials, making connections, getting repeat clients, and gradually growing the business.

I'm still in the early stage of my career, and the very guys in this thread have been helping me do it for almost 8 years. They watched and helped me transition from a teen with ambition to a young adult with potential to a full time pro traveling and doing 250+ dates/year. Many of my dates are at the price range you're describing (and higher), but still lots of them aren't. They've watched me succeed tremendously and fail equally so. All of it was crucial.

If you've got a way to skip all that (and everything that lies ahead), you let me know.
[/quote]

Totally agree. Years ago I was doing a lot of corporate work then I got burned out and quit altogether. Now I'm back at it, but since things have changed for me (wife, kid, etc.) I am trying to stay local and not travel as much and I do a lot of family events and birthdays. And boy, can I tell you that was a learning experience! At first I was struggling to get the $150 shows, now I'm in the $300 range for kid shows.

The point is, you cannot expect to go from zero to $1500 corporate events for 2 reasons (well more, but 2 big ones I see):

1. You will not be as good as an act like Tom Crowl who has many years of experience and you can tell.

2. Your promotional material will lack. When I visited the website on your signature line I was not impressed at all. Today are the times when getting found and being impressive online is very important (pressing palms is also very important) and you will need a website that is fantastic and if that website you're showing now is your best work, think again.

Another thought is, why would you want to skip the learning process? I understand the knee-jerk answer is "so I can make more money" but what you are really losing is the ability to see bad decisions before they even present themselves, the bits of business that a show/routine goes through after YEARS of performances and so much more.

What if you went to the doctor and he said that he just skipped medical school because he didn't want to put the time or effort in? Would you use him?

Josh
Message: Posted by: Close.Up.Dave (Oct 16, 2013 02:36PM)
[quote]
On 2013-10-12 13:48, BrianMillerMagic wrote:
I'm kind of offended that someone even believes there's a way to skip the painful learning process, developing an act, materials, making connections, getting repeat clients, and gradually growing the business.

I'm still in the early stage of my career, and the very guys in this thread have been helping me do it for almost 8 years. They watched and helped me transition from a teen with ambition to a young adult with potential to a full time pro traveling and doing 250+ dates/year. Many of my dates are at the price range you're describing (and higher), but still lots of them aren't. They've watched me succeed tremendously and fail equally so. All of it was crucial.

If you've got a way to skip all that (and everything that lies ahead), you let me know.
[/quote]

:applause:
Message: Posted by: inhumaninferno (Oct 18, 2013 09:57AM)
Not really trying to "thread jack"...okay, well just a little. This "ain't" corporate work, but it is high end so here goes...

I have been referred to a high end adult resort. The entertainment director has just emailed me and wants to talk about hiring me for an event coming up in a couple days (she apologized for the short notice). She also has said they have a number events yearly that they would like me to perform at. This initial inquiry focuses on performing during band breaks which indicates I would be at the resort for a number of hours.

I know some of you have much experience with resorts. Any thing you would be willing to share, resort specific, regarding fees, negotiations, etc would be appreciated. This resort is within 2 hours of where I live.

For any input anyone offers, I thank you.

If you prefer, you can pm me or email me at: johnjohnsonmagic@msn.com
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Oct 18, 2013 10:50AM)
Have you asked her what they usually pay for this kind of work? I'm sure she has a ball park figure in mind.
Message: Posted by: Blair Marshall (Oct 18, 2013 12:19PM)
And sometimes that ballpark figure may be higher than you were expecting!

B
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Oct 18, 2013 02:09PM)
I'm sure she know exactly what they are prepared to offer you too.
Message: Posted by: tacrowl (Oct 18, 2013 04:02PM)
Asking for their budget isn't a call back option. It should be discussed in the initial call.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Oct 22, 2013 09:04AM)
What they expect from me, and what they are prepared to offer are the two things that I would talk about first.
Message: Posted by: RMoreland (Oct 31, 2013 08:10AM)
[quote]
On 2013-09-28 09:43, Mindpro wrote:
There is typically not just a progression as Scott mentioned but also the experience and education that goes along with the level of progression and growth that serve a purpose that will be skipped if doing it in the way you described.

We once had a very young performer, I think maybe 23-24 years old who was seeking representation from our agency. His family was very wealthy and well-known in our state. Very nice people. The father had spent tens of thousands of dollars for some of the best promotional materials I've ever seen - a five camera studio and location shoot, promotional photos from Paul Natkin and Anne Leibowicz (of Rolling Stone fame), beautifully printed and gold embossed printing on deep burgundy gloss folder, a fantastic business card and the excellent promotional pages. Absolutely stunning for the time period in the early 1980's. He had testimonials from Chicago's Mayor Richard Daly, comedian Steve Allen and two U.S. Presidents (Carter & Ford). This thing couldn't help but get my attention. He also had two versions of his promo materials including an a completely separate AF set as well.

It came accompanied with a letter offering a willingness to pay a 30% booking commission which was far above the standard 15-20% at the time. They wanted to target only Fortune 200 companies. They had one of the best business plans and marketing strategies I'd ever seen at that time. It too skipped the normal progression.

We were both very excited. We met the kid and his father in our office. We were able to book the kid on five bookings in the first month. About six weeks later the first booking arrived from one of our very top clients. It was terrible. Embarrassing. He was a nice kid, carried himself well, but just simply didn't have the performing experience, no literal experience in any aspects of performing (staging, blocking, stagecraft, audience management, relatability, believability, no performer's persona which comes from regular and continuous performance experience, and just an unnatural and inexperienced aspect in almost every area of his performance and persona on and off stage.

He became one of the very first people I was ever asked to coach. I was paid handsomely. While the money was nice, the real reason I accepted the task was because I had him booked for four other of our best corporate clients over the next three months and I could see how this kid could cost me tens of thousands to maybe even hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost business if he caused us to lose these top clients. While we were able to help him improve, I would by no means say he was ever a good performer. It just created a terrible situation with horrible ramification (stories for another day).

The bottom line is "paying your dues" is not a bad thing like many people want to think. There are MANY benefits that come from this, only one being experience - a place to fail, be bad, learn, grow, evolve, etc. To demand high fees has to be warranted and substantiated.

Can your idea be done? Probably. Is it a wise choice and a choice without consequence? No not at all. Performers have a hard enough time working the natural progression, your idea would become even harder. There are levels of expectation from an artist performing on the upper levels. These expectations usually come as a result of the progression, experience and evolvment.

I guess if you had a lot of money, hired a coach, mentor and great creative team, it could be done. You would learn the "hows" but you can't teach the "whys" - levels of experience that get one to that level. Very difficult indeed.
[/quote]

Great story and even greater advice. Thanks for the read.
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Oct 31, 2013 11:27AM)
Band break entertainment can be very tough. Here are the two key issues:

1) The people aren't there to see you. They're there to see the band. Maybe they're there to dance. When the band breaks -- so do they...bathrooms, fresh drinks, sitting, smoking, socializing. You need to get their attention immediately and continue to hold it tight with a kung-fu grip.

2) Bands play a variety of venues. (At least mine did.) Halls, stages etc....and, while it's nice to see the band, people don't NEED to see them. They NEED to see the performer. Each venue brings a fresh set of challenges to the show...as does the size of the audience.

Here's some advice:

Befriend the band. Yup. You want them to like you enough to pull their heads out of their butts and have some form of empathy for you. This means that they don't announce they're going off on a BREAK -- they introduce YOU. Very important. This allows you to be seen as an extension of the performance instead of an interruption to it. You're going to need to come up with a way to tie into the band or the resort or both.

Make one of your sets an OPENER for the band. You're their warm-up act. This establishes you in the minds of the audience and conditions them to pay attention when you show up again later.

Try to build aspects of your performance around the thread that drew the audience together in the first place: music (or the band, if they're big enough).

When your set starts, work where the people are...usually in front of the stage. Your first effect has to be fast and VERY strong. You want people to applaud -- make noise. This draws other people. And other people draw more people, etc.

Unless there's no possible alternative, don't try to perform on the stage...because there's band equipment and wires and lights etc...and the road manager will gnaw off your left arm if you mess anything up. Be close enough to the stage that people can see you (which means that the tech crew ALSO have to be your best friends).

I learned more about hard-nosed performing, the importance of getting people to help me out in that contract than many of the other easier shows I've done. It's challenging and talent stretching. I grew a lot as a performer in those two months.

Good luck to you. Hope this was helpful.

David