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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Tricky business » » College Gigs (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

joshlondon
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I was wondering how many of you are into performing for colleges. I recently bought the new Banachek DVDs (which are great!!!) and he is almost exclusively performing for colleges (as posted on his web site and he talks about it on the DVDs).

I was wondering if it's a good, meaning lucrative market to break into, and the most cost effective way to do it. Also, why do colleges hire entertainers?
FacadeTheStiltBoy
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Greensboro NC
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Colleges do want enertainment to keep some of the kids on campus. Depending on if it is a dry campus or not would depend on what you can get away with.

If you can pull off an all nighter and have somebody DJ as well, I'm sure that it would be even easier to get a night gig. As for a day gig, somehow get ahold of some teacher depending on if it is physics or psych and try to work it into the class type setting.

if all else fails, try cold calling.
Michael Messing
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Knoxville, TN
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Colleges do entertainment for all types of purposes. Sometimes, they just bring in entertainers. Most colleges charge an activities fee and they use that money to bring in entertainers.

It's a pretty lucrative market but it's a hard one to get into. The primary way that colleges select their entertainment is through organizations like NACA (National Association for Campus Activities.) They hold regional showcases, as well as a national showcase, where representatives from college & university activities groups come to meet and see performers, musicians, speakers, etc.

You have to be a member of NACA to have a booth at their showcases. The cost for a booth is pretty high and you really get your best opportunity if you get a showcase spot. To get one of those, you have to apply (and there's a fee) and if you are selected, you get to perform for the representatives. A strong showcase at a national convention can fill your schedule overnight! The competition is fierce.

I suggest you check out NACA's website: http://www.naca.org/NACA
Bill Hegbli
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Eternal Order
Fort Wayne, Indiana
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I have known magicians and mentalist that use the old method of selling direct with colleges.

Kreskin plays colleges mostly. As with any field, it is hard to get into.
MattTheKnife
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Josh,

One of my main markets for a number of years has been the college circuit. Depending upon your business skills, level of commitment (both financial and personal), understanding of the market, performance ability, and show type you could either do exceptionally well or lose quite a bit financially speaking.

I personally love this area but it’s really not for everybody. In fact, I’d go as far to say that it’s really only for very few.

If truly interested then I urge you to look in to NACA and APCA. But understand that you must be a solid performer, that there’s already a very high amount of competition and that you MUST be willing to make a financial commitment in the thousands in order to be viable.

Cheers,
-Matt (TK)
Don
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You can say that any market is only for a few such as tradeshows,festivals or colleges. You must be a solid performer whenever you are charging people money no matter what market. Try to see where you fit (what you like best) and develop the acumen needed.

Competition is everywhere no matter what you do or what field from tradeshows etc.

Just give it your best shot.

Don
joshlondon
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So if I don't have thousands of dollars to put into it, what do I do? How do I get booked? Who is the decision maker? I have been doing corporate shows for a while now and when I first started everyone said that it would be tough for me and cost me a lot of money, but I started with nothing. All I had was a computer, phone book, and a printer. But, I learned how to sell myself with paper and envelopes, should I do the same thing, but target schools?
magicman02
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What are the average fees a Mentalist/Magician/Hypnotist can get in a college market?
Michael Messing
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Knoxville, TN
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Targeting schools directly may work but colleges really do rely on NACA and APCA. They allow them to see the acts if they showcase. Their magazines print the feedback they get from colleges on individual acts. (They list likes, dislikes and how it went.)

The best way to get into NACA or APCA if you don't have the money to finance it yourself is to find an agent that specializes in the college market. They go to the conventions and represent lots of acts. Of course, you'll have to work hard to get one to add you to their roster. (Again, the competition is fierce.)

magicman02,

Colleges pay really well but there are all kinds of price ranges. Performers give prices for single shows and blocks of shows. (That's where you'll do two shows in three days for two different colleges or three shows in five days for for three colleges. The rates used to be all listed in their directories. I haven't been involved with NACA since 1990 so I don't know for sure that they still do this.)

Michael
MajesticWizard
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Lakewood, WA - USA
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The interest level at my college might be minimal...as we are an urban campus. We have sort of an outdoor theater, and most of our public stuff is done there during lunch. You have to be really good, with stage illusions to perform at most schools. I think kids lose interst real quick. Well, that and exams they are prepping for can be distracting to them.

But you could always try....
- Shawn

"Explore your world, its waiting for you".
MattTheKnife
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I feel that Michael covered it pretty well. The only thing that I’d add (and this isn’t to be discouraging… it’s just the truth) is that most of the college agents take on talent from what they’ve seen at the showcases, your booth, and the general feedback/buzz that you receive. Typically they want you to first prove yourself within the college market before they take you on as a client. Also in the college market they typically approach you rather than the other way around.

Cheers,
-Matt (TK)
Nell
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Germany
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I know WVU gets all kinds of people in for Up All Night every weekend during the regular school year. Everyone is hired through WVU Arts & Entertainment. I used to usher for touring shows and my boss told me about a bit about it when she found out I did magic and said to contact them if I was interested.
"A trick may be very good...but...the illusionist must be better than the trick." -René Lavand
Dannydoyle
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Eternal Order
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Josh colleges are quite lucrative. But Matt is so right, not to be discouraging but agents I have met in the college game get thousands of tapes and tens of thousands of envelopes a week. Literally this is not an exaggeration. Schools get this huge volume also which is why they rely on the NACA and other orginizations. To get an agent you would do best to do one of 2 things. Join the orginizations for a few years till you can meet these people.

To do this you go to the conventions, regional and national, buy a booth and try to sell yourself to the schools. Hopefully getting a showcase. As said it is expensive.

Alternativly sometimes if you can get an agent to actually come see you work this may be better than any tape you can send them. This is a tough market and the thing nobody is saying is that the orginizations are really an old network of people who have been doing it for 30 years or more. They are good at it and have great relationships with the schools. They have earned their plaace and guard it well, as would anyone.

As for the computer, printer and envelopes, you would have an easier time trying to climb the Matterhorn without any arms than to break into them that way. You may net a few shows, but not a living.

One last thing needs to be said. Have an actual act. A darn good one. competion is fierce. And if your not ready agents never forget a bad act.

Good Luck

Danny
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Decomposed
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High Desert
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I perform mostly mentalism and just received my first correspondence with a local university. I contacted them directly with a demo. Like most have said here, they do depend on going to conventions because in the email I received, they have filled their entertainment calender with talent they saw in Dallas but are interested in my show for spring. This is very welcome news. Most likely, if I get the gig, they may not want the same show/performer on a regular basis, but at least I will have one college show to add to my resume.

The most difficult task ahead is sending them a quote. I defintely don't want to charge high but I should save them a lot in travel expenses.

Candini
Decomposed
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Well I messed up big time I think. I sent them a below minimum wage quote. A below corporate show rate for sure. Oh well, guess an introductory offer if I get the gig?
stangpb
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Although I am new to magic, the college scene to me is not. My day job is as a student activities coordinator at a small college in NH. Although we only have about 800 students we a have a fairly large budget for activities like most colleges. We do tons or programming including entertainers. Right now we have had and will be having 2 mentalists, 3 magicians and two hypnotists, we have about 2 entertainers a month. I receive hundreds of advertisements and postcards for all types of entertainers but do most of my business through agencies. We book all of our entertainment on block bookings and pay between 1200 and 2200 plus hotel for our entertainment.

My best advice would be to use the phone, it is very easy to tuck a post card in file but if you are a good salesmen you may be able to hook them on the phone. Offer something extra maybe a half hour of walk around magic before your show or after. Try to have something that sets you apart a trick that is simple to understand but packs a huge punch, something that can be explained over the phone or in a short video. You need to somehow set yourself apart in your advertisement, you will be competing with hundreds of other people. Send postcards in the middle of the semesters. At the beginning of each semester I might receive 200 – 300 post cards but during those days in the middle maybe only a handful per day.

Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions.

James
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